(NEW YORK) — A federal judge in New York on Wednesday denied former President Donald Trump’s request for a new trial in the defamation and battery case brought by E. Jean Carroll that resulted in a $5 million damage award.
Trump had sought a new trial after a New York jury in May found him liable for sexually assaulting the former Elle magazine columnist in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s, then defaming her in a 2022 Truth Social post by calling her allegations “a Hoax and a lie.”
Judge Lewis Kaplan denied the request, saying, “The jury in this case did not reach ‘a seriously erroneous result.'”
“Its verdict is not ‘a miscarriage of justice,'” the judge said in his ruling.
“Now that the court has denied Trump’s motion for a new trial or to decrease the amount of the verdict, E. Jean Carroll looks forward to receiving the $5 million in damages that the jury awarded her,” Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement.
In rendering its verdict in May, the jury held Trump liable for battering Carroll, but did not find that he raped her as alleged, instead holding him liable for sexual assault.
Jury members awarded Carroll damages of $2 million in compensatory damages and $20,000 in punitive damages for battery, as well as $1 million in damages, $1.7 million for reputation repair, and $280,000 in punitive damages, for defamation.
“The Court should order a new trial on damages or grant remittitur because contrary to Plaintiff’s claim of rape, the Jury found that she was not raped but was sexually abused by Defendant during the 1995/1996 Bergdorf Goodman incident,” Trump’s attorneys argued in their bid for a new trial.
“Such abuse could have included groping of Plaintiffs breasts through clothing or similar conduct, which is a far cry from rape,” Trump’s attorneys said. “Therefore, an award of $2 million for such conduct, which admittedly did not cause any diagnosed mental injury to Plaintiff, is grossly excessive under the applicable case law.”
Kaplan, however, said in his ruling that “this jury did not award Ms. Carroll more than $2 million for groping her breasts through her clothing, wrongful as that might have been. There was no evidence at all of such behavior.”
“Instead,” the judge wrote, “the proof convincingly established, and the jury implicitly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long lasting emotional and psychological harm.”
“Mr. Trump’s argument therefore ignores the bulk of the evidence at trial, misinterprets the jury’s verdict, and mistakenly focuses on the New York Penal Law definition of ‘rape’ to the exclusion of the meaning of that word as it often is used in everyday life and of the evidence of what actually occurred between Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump,” the ruling said.
The trial in May was the result of a 2022 lawsuit Carroll filed against Trump under a new law in New York that allows adult sex assault victims to file claims that would otherwise be barred by the passage of time.
Carroll initially sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he denied her claims by saying she was “not my type” and suggesting she fabricated her accusation in order to increase sales of her then-forthcoming book.
That case has been tied up in legal technicalities, but a Justice Department ruling last week may clear the way for it to proceed.
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