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Summer Zervos' lawsuit against President Donald Trump can proceed, court rules

16 March 2019, 07:10 | Devin Moran

Summer Zervos' lawsuit against President Donald Trump can proceed, court rules

Summer Zervos listens as her attorney Gloria Allred speaks during a news conference announcing the filing of a lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump in Los Angeles

In a move that could have big implications for the much-investigaed ex-Celebrity Apprentice host, a NY state appeals court today shut down Trump's ongoing desire to dodge Summer Zervos' legal action in its affirmation of a lower court ruling that POTUS can't get out of the case just because he is in the Oval Office.

Trump's attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, voiced disagreement with the ruling and said the president plans to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, "which we expect will agree with the dissent".

The appeals court called Ms Zervos's case "materially indistinguishable" from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones's lawsuit accusing then-president Bill Clinton of sexual harassment.

While the statute of limitations on such misconduct charges has long expired, Trump's caustic comments during the 2016 campaign that Zervos' claims were "total fiction" and "all false stuff" basically reset the clock. On one occasion, she claimed that Trump groped her in a hotel, even after she tried to push him away.

Zervos, an "Apprentice" contestant in 2005, accused Trump of kissing her against her will at a 2007 meeting in NY, and later groping her at a Beverly Hills hotel.

But the court ruled on Thursday that the case will move forward, finding that Trump's argument that a sitting president can not be sued in state court "conflicts with the fundamental principle that the United States has a 'government of laws and not of men'".

The decision lets Zervos' suit proceed and increases the prospect that Trump could have to sit for sworn questioning.

The Zervos case has already brought forth dozens of recorded depositions with Trump Organization figures as senior as Allen Weisselberg, the company's CFO, who had been at Mr. Trump's side for decades.




Trump's attorneys had argued that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution shielded Trump from the claim, but Justice Dianne Renwick wrote that the clause was "never meant to deprive a state court of its authority to decide cases and controversies under the state's constitution".

Zervos' lawyers say Trump's words were falsehoods that subjected her to threats. But the NY appeals court said the clause in no way grants Trump such immunity.

Trump also faced a defamation claim by adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit over a hush money agreement. That paved the way for Clinton's impeachment the following year.

That lawsuit was dismissed on March 7.

The judges said in an opinion written by Justice Dianne T. Renwick: 'The current sitting President attempts to shield himself from consequences for his alleged unofficial misconduct by relying upon the constitutional protection of the Presidency.

Zervos appeared on "The Apprentice" in 2006, when Trump was the reality show's host. "Notwithstanding that concern, this Court should not be deterred from holding that a state court can exercise jurisdiction over the President as a defendant in a civil lawsuit".

Zervos is seeking a retraction, an apology, and compensatory and punitive damages.

Zervos's attorney Marianne Wang eagerly awaits the opportunity to prove her client's claims correct in a court of law where, as U.S. Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted Wednesday, "facts still matter".



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