New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Defamation, Melania Trump


February 8th, 2017

Melania Trump’s Lawyers Screw The Pooch

Before getting into the latest Trump lawsuit — this one by Melania Trump for defamation, filed in my local courthouse — I want to get one thing out of the way. I think that the families of politicians are off–limits for commentary and ridicule except in limited circumstances.

One of those circumstances is an active engagement in politics. Thus, Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton were both fair game, but First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama were not.

Children are likewise off-limits, unless engaged in politics. Thus, Eric Trump, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka are all fair game, while Tiffany and Baron are not.

This is the reason that Rush Limbaugh and John McCain were both mercilessly skewered for picking on the child of a president. It is vulgar and completely beyond all sense of decency. While they had the constitutional right to conduct themselves that way, others had the right to flay them for having done it.

But yesterday Melania lost that protection with her claims in a defamation case. The nuts and bolts of the claim is that some blogger claimed she was an escort while also being a model, and she says that was false and defamatory. She sued the blogger and a website, Mail Online.

So far, no problem from me. If the claims are utterly false, have at it.

But her lawyers threw her under the bus with claims that she lost “multimillion dollar business relationships” during the years in which she would be “one of the most photographed women in the world.” This would be a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person.”

What the hell?  She’s complaining about not being able to use the White House for profit?

She, and the family, were ripped by the New York Times (and many others) yesterday in an editorial:

But any veneer of plausible deniability about the Trump family’s greed and their transactional view of the most powerful job in the world was shattered this week by a defamation lawsuit the first lady, Melania Trump, filed….

There is no benign way to look at that claim. Mrs. Trump evidently believes her new title affords her a chance to rake in millions of dollars.

Here’s the kicker: It is wholly unnecessary to make such comments when filing a complaint in New York.  A general claim of losses will suffice. The details will come later in a document called a bill of particulars, and even there, such hyperbolic language is not needed.

If the objective was to garner press with the suit, well they succeeded. Beyond, perhaps, their wildest nightmares. They have placed their client’s name on an exceptionally damaging document describing her desire for White House profiteering.

The lawyers also did something else very Trumpian: They made outrageous demands for damages, of $300,000,000. Yup, you read that right.

And, as regular readers of this blog know, you aren’t even allowed to make monetary demands in a complaint in personal injury suits in New York.  It is specifically outlawed, and is sanctionable. (And yes, defamation is a type of personal injury suit.)

The geniuses who did this to Melania?

The one pulling the strings is Charles Harder from Beverly Hills, who has experience in high-profile defamation cases. And he should have known better than to impugn his own client.

On the New York side as local counsel is Mark Rosenberg of Tarter Krinsky & Drogin.  According to his bio, these are his practice areas:

  • China Desk
  • Hospitality and Restaurant Services
  • Intellectual Property
  • Retail

Seriously? They couldn’t find local counsel who knew how to craft a simple defamation complaint in state court (which does not require the level of detail that federal court does), without negligently killing their own client in the process?

The job of local counsel is to make sure that the out-of-state-guy doesn’t screw the pooch on rules of procedure. And here, the rules of procedure were clear: It was unnecessary (and damaging) to have Melania confess her true motives of using the White House for profit, and unnecessary to potentially subject her to sanctions for an impermissible ad damnum clause.

The Trump v. Mail Media filing is here.

P.S.  Making a claim for legal fees at the end was also dumb, as they are not permitted. It shows one of two things: The lawyer is ignorant or the lawyer is copying from a form without actually reading and comprehending it.

15 thoughts on “Melania Trump’s Lawyers Screw The Pooch

    • This man is by far the most dangerous individual on planet earth! How many ways can I say IMPEACH NOW!

      You may not have noticed, but this post was about Melania’s lawyers, not her husband’s qualifications (or lack thereof).

  1. Wouldn’t calling someone an escort, basically a high end prostitute, be libel pro se? Why show damages at all, if it is unnecessary?

  2. It might well be that what saves all humanity from the Drumpf family’s greed and psychopathy is their actual apparent incompetence.

    “Save us, Obi Wan. You’re our only hope!”

  3. What Trump and family does would be a mute point – if he would release his tax returns.[Remainder of anti-Trump rant deleted –ET]

  4. Melania should file a malpractice suit against her attorneys if the story is true as Attorney Turkowitz is reporting it. Other media outlets reported that she “won” her lawsuit concerning this complaint. (Other than the NY Times that is, which consistently reports false/fake news) and trash President Trump daily. I’m sure Melania’s attorney’s retainer was a fortune. Hopefully they are current with their malpractice insurance premiums.

  5. As the out-of-state guy apparently practices in California, he shouldn’t need any help as to the basic rule against asserting a specific amount of damages in a personal injury action as the same rule applies here.

  6. Wouldn’t calling someone an escort, basically a high end prostitute, be libel [per] se?

    Nope. The Maryland judge may have viewed accusations of being an escort as being synonymous with accusations of prostitution, but that is error. There are at least some escort agencies which publish hourly rates for mere public companionship.

    Beyond that, being an escort even with additional services on a separate fee schedule is legal in some areas. You would have to allege escorting and additional services in a state where it was illegal, otherwise you have not fully set forth the wrongful act necessary for “per se” defamation.

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