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Jury orders Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages

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Less than three hours after beginning deliberation, the jury in the second defamation case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump issues a verdict ordering him to pay her $83.3 million in damages for his defamatory statements regarding his sexual assault of Carroll in 1996. During closing arguments Carroll’s lawyers ask the jury to award her at least $24 million in damages for repeatedly defaming her account of his sexual assault of her in a department store changing room. Trump lawyer Alina Habba counters that her client should not be held liable for threats made against Carroll by his supporters. Here are the latest details in the legal battles involving the former president who hopes to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Jury orders Trump to pay $83.3 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll

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Key players: Columnist E. Jean Carroll, Carroll lawyers Roberta Kaplan and Shawn Crowley, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, Judge Lewis Kaplan

  • A New York jury issued a verdict Friday afternoon that Trump must pay Carroll $83.3 million for defamatory statements he made in which he denied sexually abusing her in a department store changing room in 1996, Politico reported.
  • Carroll’s lawyers had asked the jury to award her at least $24 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but the jury went far beyond that amount.
  • In a unanimous verdict, the jury found that Trump owed Carroll $7.3 million in compensatory damages, $11 million in order to repair her reputation and $65 million in punitive damages.
  • Last May, a jury found that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in 1996 and had later defamed her in 2022 by denying her account of the incident and asserting Carroll had made the story up to sell books. That jury also awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.
  • This trial centered around a statement Trump made in 2019 in which he asserted Carroll had made up the story of the assault in order to sell books. But Trump’s frequent attacks on Carroll also helped contribute to the staggering figure the jury reached on punitive damages.
  • Kaplan ordered that the identity of the jurors be kept secret throughout the trial, and he issued a word of warning to the jurors after the verdict was read.
  • “My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” he said.
  • On social media, Trump said he would appeal the decision. “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” he wrote of the verdict.

Why it matters: Two separate juries have now awarded Carroll more than $88 million in damages. Carroll’s lawyers had argued that only a significant sum would compel Trump to stop his attacks on Carroll. It remains to be seen whether that will happen.

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Carroll’s lawyer asks jury for at least $24 million in damages from Trump

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Key players: Columnist E. Jean Carroll, Carroll lawyers Roberta Kaplan and Shawn Crowley, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, Judge Lewis Kaplan

  • In closing arguments Friday, Carroll’s lawyers told the jury that Trump should be forced to pay their client at least $24 million in compensatory damages in addition to the $10 million they are seeking in punitive damages for his repeated defamation, the Associated Press reported.
  • Though a jury ruled in May that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in a department store changing room in 1996 and ordered him to pay her $5 million for defaming her by denying her account of the incident in a memoir published in 2019, Trump has continued to portray her as a liar.
  • As those comments continued, Carroll sued Trump a second time, seeking $10 million in compensatory damages. On Friday, Roberta Kaplan cited a new total amount, saying Trump should be on the hook for at least $12 million in compensatory damages, intended to compensate for losses, and another $12 million for punitive damages, which are awarded to punish a defendant.
  • “We’re all human beings, and we’re all capable of understanding the pain and suffering Ms. Carroll has experienced,” Kaplan told the jury. “In our view, the damage to Ms. Carroll’s sense of self — to her peace of mind — the feeling that we all have that we can go about our lives every day and not be suddenly attacked or raped or killed is very significant, so the dollar number to compensate for that has to be very large.”
  • Throughout the trial, which will decide the amount of damages, if any, Trump must pay Carroll, her lawyers have argued that the jury must decide on a figure high enough that will keep Trump from defaming her yet again.
  • “The one thing Donald Trump cares about is money,” Kaplan said on Friday.
  • During Kaplan’s closing, Trump angrily stormed out of the courtroom but returned to sit at the defense table to hear Habba deliver hers.
  • Habba took issue with the idea that Trump’s attacks on Carroll had resulted directly in death threats from his supporters on social media, and portrayed her as hungry for fame.
  • “We have watched six days of a plaintiff trying to pin Twitter trolls’ comments on a former president of the United States without accepting any responsibility for the media and the press frenzy and the public profile that she wanted and she still enjoys,” Habba told the jury.
  • Carroll testified about the threats she had received since coming forward with her story of being assaulted by Trump, saying that the number of threats exploded when Trump denied her account in a 2019 statement made when he was president.
  • In her closing, Habba said Trump could not be held liable for threats made against Carroll by others. “President Trump should not have to pay for their threats. He does not condone them. He did not direct them. All he did was tell his truth,” she said.
  • In a rebuttal, Crowley told the jury that Trump “lied and defamed [Carroll] over and over again, and that has been proven; he did those things and yet his attorney says it is her fault.”
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Why it matters: Judge Kaplan has already instructed the jury that Trump was found to have sexually assaulted Carroll, and he reiterated that point in a contentious back-and-forth with Habba on Friday, saying, “The fact that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted Ms. Carroll is established.” Because of those instructions, the jury’s job will be to decide what further amount, if any, Trump owes Carroll.

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