Image via WikipediaIn a 30-page opinion issued this week, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey upheld a trial judge's dismissal of real estate magnate/"The Apprentice" reality TV star Donald Trump's 2009 $5 billion defamation suit against the author and publisher of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald for writing that Trump was not a billionaire.
The 63-year-old Trump, through his attorney, assesses his personal worth as exceeding $7 billion, but then again, Trump also claimed that investigators he hired had scoured Hawaii and were going to blow the lid off President Barack Obama's birth certificate. TrumpNation author Timothy O'Brien estimated Trump's net worth as somewhere between $150 million and $250 million. A New Jersey Superior Court judge last May granted summary judgment for the defendants, holding that Trump, a public figure, could not show "actual malice," that is, that the defendants published false statements about him with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements. Trump's attorneys argued that the defendants' reliance on anonymous sources constituted actual malice.
In Donald J. Trump v. Timothy O'Brien, Warner Book Group, Inc. and Warner Books Inc. (Docket No. A-614108T3), the appellate panel affirmed the lower court's ruling, stating: "There were no significant internal inconsistencies in the information provided by the confidential sources, nor was there 'reliable' information that contradicted their reports, so as to provide evidence of actual malice. Nothing suggests that O'Brien was subjectively aware of the falsity of the source's figures or that he had actual doubts as to the information's accuracy."