No one makes accusations of sexual assault lightly. Women who come forward with claims that men (especially famous men) sexually harassed and/or assaulted them face ridicule and threats to do so without serious consideration. And yet women who do come forward to accuse men of sexual assault are often harassed and accused of making up stories to get attention.
One woman recently sued President Trump for defamation and has faced such a back lash and now the President claims he is immune from her libel suit during the term of his Presidency.
Summer Zervos, a California restaurant-owner who was on “The Apprentice” in 2006, alleged Trump sexually assaulted her when she met with him in 2007 to discuss a potential job with the Trump Organization.
During his presidential campaign, numerous women came forward to say that Trump had sexually assaulted them, especially after a video was released in which Trump bragged about women letting him grab them because he was famous. Trump has asserted that all the women accusing him of sexual assault were making up stories and spreading lies about him.
Zevos filed a lawsuit in New York State Court alleging Trump’s very loud and very public dismissal of her accusations defamed her and she is seeking the appropriate compensation as a result.
Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the president cannot be sued in state court while in office. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that a president can be sued in federal court while in office over personal matters pertaining to things that happened before they were in office, Kasowitz points out the ruling pertained only to federal court. While the Supreme Court did rule that a current president can be sued in federal court while in office, Kasowitz maintains that the fact that Zevos’s lawsuit was filed in state court makes all the difference.
Kasowitz also argued that Zevos’s allegations were false to begin with, which means she cannot file claims for defamation. He accused Zevos of filing the lawsuit as a way to investigate Trump and potentially hurt his presidency. He also contradicted himself and said Trump’s statements were made in the heat of the moment during his campaign, and as such, were protected by free speech and not subject to defamation lawsuits. He is covering all his bases and raising contradictory defenses by insisting Trump did not lie, but also saying that if he did lie, it’s protected speech.
But there are limits to the protections offered by the First Amendment. Speech that is known by the speaker to be false and does harm to the target is not protected under the U.S. Constitution. Kasowitz will find that out if the New York state court allows the defamation lawsuit to proceed.
If the state does agree with Kasowitz that the president cannot be sued in state court while in office, it would have far-reaching consequences for this presidency and every presidency hereafter. It would effectively make the president immune from all civil lawsuits while in office. Not only would that be good news for Trump, whose name has appeared regularly in state courts, but it would doubtless be used by presidents to in the future.
Our Chicago libel and slander lawyers concentrate in this area of the law. We have defended or prosecuted a number of defamation and libel cases, including cases representing a consumer sued by a large luxury used car dealer in federal court for hundreds of negative internet reviews and videos which resulted in substantial media coverage of the suit; one of Loyola University’s largest contributors when the head basketball coach sued him for libel after he was fired; and a lawyer who was falsely accused of committing fraud with the false allegation published to the Dean of the University of Illinois School of Law, where the lawyer attended law school and the President of the University of Illinois. One of our partners also participated in representing a high profile athlete against a well-known radio shock jock.
Our Chicago defamation attorneys defend individuals’ First Amendment and free speech rights to post on Facebook, Yelp and other websites information that criticizes businesses and addresses matters of public concern. Our Chicago Cybersquatting attorneys also represent and prosecute claims on behalf of businesses throughout the Chicago area including in Wilmette and Glenview who have been unfairly and falsely criticized by consumers and competitors in defamatory publications in the online and offline media. We have successfully represented businesses who have been the victim of competitors setting up false rating sites and pretend consumer rating sites that are simply forums to falsely bash or business clients. We have also represented and defended consumers First Amendment and free speech rights to criticize businesses who are guilty of consumer fraud and false advertising.
Super Lawyers named Chicago and Oak Brook business trial attorneys Peter Lubin a Super Lawyer in the Categories of Class Action, Business Litigation, and Consumer Rights Litigation. Lubin Austermuehle’s Oak Brook and Chicago business trial lawyers have over a quarter of a century of experience in litigating complex class action, consumer rights, and business and commercial litigation disputes. We handle emergency business lawsuits involving injunctions, and TROS, defamation, libel, and covenant not to compete, franchise, distributor and dealer wrongful termination and trade secret lawsuits and many different kinds of business disputes involving shareholders, partnerships, closely held businesses and employee breaches of fiduciary duty. We also assist businesses and business owners who are victims of fraud or defamatory attacks on their business and reputations.
Lubin Austermuehle’s DuPage County defamation and slander lawyers near Barrington and Des Plaines have more than three decades of experience helping business clients unravel the complexities of Illinois and out-of-state business laws. Our Chicago business, commercial, class-action, and consumer litigation lawyers represent individuals, family businesses and enterprises of all sizes in a variety of legal disputes, including disputes among partners and shareholders as well as lawsuits between businesses and consumer rights, auto fraud, and wage claim individual and class action cases. In every case, our goal is to resolve disputes as quickly and successfully as possible, helping business clients protect their investments and get back to business as usual. From offices in Oak Brook, near Deerfield and Evanston, we serve clients throughout Illinois and the Midwest.
If you are the victim of a defamatory attack on your business or a consumer who has been sued to stop you from posting criticism of a business online at Yelp or anywhere else, contact one of our Oak Brook and Chicago defamation lawyers for a free consultation at 630-333-0333 or online by filling out our contact us form.