Thursday, July 16, 2009

'The Donald' Trumped in Libel Suit

Donald TrumpImage by ping ping via Flickr

The signature moment of NBC's "The Apprentice" comes when Donald Trump points his index finger at some hapless MBA-toting whiz kid and sneers: "Yaw Fyed." The 63-year-old real estate developer can probably better relate to how the mogul wannabes feel after N.J. Superior Court Judge Michele M. Fox yesterday threw out "The Donald's" $5 billion libel suit against author Timothy O'Brien and publisher Time Warner Book Group, Inc.

Trump sued in January 2006, concerning the defendants' October 2005, book, "TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald," in which O'Brien, now editor of The New York Times Sunday business section, relied on three confidential sources to gauge Trump's worth at between $150 million and $250 million. Trump countered his total assets in 2005 were closer to $5 billion or $6 billion, and claimed the defendants' book, which sold roughly 17,000 copies, damaged his reputation and credit standing with lenders.

In a 2007 deposition concerning the case (Trump v. O'Brien, Time Warner Book Group L-545-06), Trump lowered his net worth estimate to $4 billion plus, whereas a 2009 article in The Wall St. Journal placed the number at $788 million based on an appraisal performed in 2005 by Deutsche Bank.

Judge Fox read her decision from the bench in a conference call to lawyers, finding that O'Brien reasonably believed his figures were correct and that Trump did not produce verifiable numbers to show that O'Brien's estimates were false. Judge Fox ruled that Trump failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that O'Brien published the financial information with actual malice. Additionally, she held that O'Brien, as author, was an independent contractor thereby precluding a finding of vicarious liability against the publisher, Time Warner, for O'Brien's actions.

Trump decried U.S. libel law and indicated he would appeal Judge Fox's dismissal of his libel suit. No word from either Trump's mouthpiece or hairpiece.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

  1. Trump's hairpiece speaks volumes, but silently. As for his mouthpiece, he can't pay him enough (and probably doesn't.) Besides, the idea of Trump having either a credit rating or a reputation to protect was already written about by Freud in his book, "The Future of an Illusion."