E. Jean Carroll, former U.S. President Donald Trump rape accuser, arrives at Manhattan Federal Court for the continuation of the civil case, in New York City, May 9, 2023.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that Donald Trump is liable for defamatory statements he made about the writer E. Jean Carroll in 2019 when she went public with claims he had raped her decades earlier.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, as part of that ruling, said that the upcoming trial for Carroll’s civil lawsuit against Trump will only deal with the question of how much the former president should pay her in monetary damages for defaming her.
Normally, a jury would determine at trial whether a defendant is liable for civil damages claimed by a plaintiff.
But Kaplan found that Carroll was entitled to a partial summary judgment on the question of Trump’s liability in the case because jurors at a trial in a separate, but related lawsuit in May found that Trump had sexually abused Carroll in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, and had defamed in statements he made as he denied her allegation last fall.
Carroll’s lawyers had argued, and Kaplan agreed Wednesday, that the jury’s verdict in that case effectively settled the legal question of whether Trump had defamed her in similar comments he made about Carroll in 2019.
The 25-page decision in U.S. District Court in Manhattan is the latest in a series of big losses for Trump in lawsuits filed by Carroll.
At the trial which ended in May, Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in damages for the comments he made after he was president. Trump is appealing the verdict and damages in that case.
The suit that was the subject of Kaplan’s ruling Wednesday relates to statements about Carroll that Trump made when he was president as he denied her claim of rape.
Trial in the case is set to begin on Jan. 15.
Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, in a statement, said, “We look forward to trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made about our client E Jean Carroll in 2019.”
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said,” We remain very confident that the Carroll II verdict will be overturned on appeal which will render this decision moot.”
“Carroll II” is the shorthand name for Carroll’s second lawsuit, which was the subject of the trial that ended in May.
Habba also said that she believed that a federal appeals court in New York will block the upcoming trial in Carroll’s first lawsuit “as it considers the meritorious defenses that have been raised by President Trump.”
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