NY Appeals Court Rules Trump Can Sue Niece Over NY Times Article

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by Tyler Durden
Monday, Jun 03, 2024 - 06:40 PM

Former President Trump can sue his niece, Mary Trump, for violating a confidentiality agreement she signed in relation to a settlement related to her grandfather's estate.

Former President Donald Trump appears with his lawyer Susan Necheles for a pre-trial hearing in criminal court in New York City on March 25, 2024. (Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images)

According to the Manhattan Appellate Division, there is a "substantial basis in law" for Trump to claim that his niece violated said confidentiality provisions of the 2001 settlement of the estate of Fred Trump Sr.

The five-judge panel said that they don't know whether Mary Trump's disclosures were subject to confidentiality, but that Trump can move forward with a lawsuit to find out. The court also suggested that Trump might only be entitled to minimal damages - not the $100 million he originally sought.

"At a minimum, nominal damages may still be available on the breach of contract claim even in the absence of actual damages," said the court.

As the Epoch Times notes further, other courts have issued rulings in favor of the former president. In June 2023, a judge in New York sided against Ms. Trump, who appealed the ruling. The five-judge panel upheld the lower court judge’s previous ruling on Thursday.

“Issues of fact exist as to whether the information disclosed by defendant (that is the subject of this suit) or plaintiff’s prior statements (that are relied upon by defendant) are subject to the confidentiality provision,” the court said Thursday. “Because the confidentiality agreement contains no fixed duration, the court must ‘inquire into the intent of the parties’ and determine—‘if a duration may be fairly and reasonably fixed by the surrounding circumstances and the parties’ intent.'”

The court also did not find Ms. Trump to be liable, but it said that President Trump has the right to sue her.

“While issues of fact exist as to the confidentiality provision’s meaning and scope, it is not so vague as to be unenforceable as a matter of law,” the court added. “Any ambiguity can be resolved through examination of parol evidence to discern the intent of the parties.”

The lawsuit arose out of a 2018 New York Times article that included information that was provided by Ms. Trump, who often criticizes her uncle in her numerous media appearances and on social media. The article went into detail about President Trump’s taxes.

The NY Times article, which cited anonymous sources, published more information on how much his father allegedly gave to President Trump. Later, Ms. Trump revealed that she was one of the sources in a memoir that she had published.

A lawyer for Ms. Trump said her uncle’s lawsuit violated a state law barring frivolous cases designed to silence critics and “chill and retaliate against” their free speech. These cases are called strategic lawsuits against public participation, or SLAPPs.

Mary has made valuable contributions to the public’s knowledge of the former president with her unique perspective as a family member,” lawyer Anne Champion said in a statement to several news outlets on Thursday. “We are confident she will be vindicated as the case proceeds.”

The Epoch Times has contacted Ms. Champion for comment.
In response, an attorney for President Trump, Alina Habba, said in a statement that the former president is looking forward to holding Ms. Trump accountable over what she described as a “fully accountable for her blatant and egregious breach of contract.”

On Thursday, President Trump shared an article about the New York appeals court decision on his Truth Social account, coming shortly before a jury found him guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a separate case.

Ms. Trump, a psychologist who is the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., celebrated the former president’s criminal conviction on Thursday during a live stream on YouTube.

“This is a vindication for every single citizen of New York state and every single American,” she said, adding: “I’m so happy ... this is the best flipping Christmas morning I’ve ever had in my life.”
The case is Trump v Trump, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 1st Department, with case number No. 2023-03021.

Reuters contributed to this report.