RISMEDIA, August 17, 2009-(MCT)-Donald Trump is taking another swing at the New York Times writer he claims foiled several large real estate deals by deliberately underestimating Trump’s worth in a book.
Lawyers today filed notice with the New Jersey Appellate Court stating that they would fight a Camden County judge’s decision last month to dismiss the libel suit Trump filed against author Timothy O’Brien.
In his 2005 book, TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald, O’Brien quoted three anonymous sources who estimated Trump’s net worth in the millions, not billions.
At the time the book was published, Trump said his net worth exceeded $5 billion.
In the libel lawsuit, lawyers contended that O’Brien had “knowingly published inaccurate information to embarrass Trump, to damage him in his business and professional dealings and to create publicity” for his book.
The lawsuit included statements from the book, newspaper articles and interviews in which O’Brien derided Trump as “the walking embodiment of financial pornography.”
Superior Court Judge Michele M. Fox disagreed that the statements amounted to malice, which is needed to prove a libel lawsuit, when she dismissed the case last month.
“While the comments made by O’Brien about Trump may suggest a lack of professionalism and/or personal animus against Trump,” Fox said in her oral decision, “under the law of defamation they do not establish clear and convincing evidence of actual malice.”
The judge noted O’Brien quoted a variety of sources in the book, including some who estimated Trump’s worth in the billions.
William Tambussi, one of Trump’s attorneys, said the appeal would argue that the judge incorrectly concluded there was no malice. The matter should be put before a jury, Tambussi said.
The appeal also may address the anonymous sources that O’Brien used. O’Brien protected the identity of the sources when he turned over redacted notes and some taped interviews, as he was required to do by law. Other taped interviews had been destroyed.
Last month, O’Brien, now a business editor at the Times, said he was gratified that the judge’s ruling “vindicated” his reporting. He referred all other questions to his attorneys.
Marvin Smilon, a spokesman for the law firm defending O’Brien and his publisher, Hachette Book Group Inc., last month called the lawsuit “meritless.” Smilon could not immediately be reached this afternoon.
Tambussi said Fox’s decision does not vindicate O’Brien’s reporting and he’s confident Trump will prevail in getting the case before a jury.
Should he win the suit, Trimp will become significantly richer. He is seeking more than $2.5 billion in damages.
Copyright (c) 2009, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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