Donald Trump on Thursday asked a federal court in New York to slash the penalty awarded against him in the sexual assault and defamation civil case won by writer E Jean Carroll from $5m down to $1m – or grant him a new trial.
A jury last month found the former US president liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer and awarded her $5m in damages.
In a filing in Manhattan federal court, Trump’s lawyers said the jury’s $2m award for the sexual abuse portion of the verdict was “excessive” because the jury had found that Carroll was not raped, and that the conduct Carroll alleged did not cause any diagnosed mental injury.
They also said the $2.7m award for the defamation claim was “based upon pure speculation”.
Carroll’s lawsuit, filed in 2022, said Trump raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York in the mid-1990s, and defamed her by denying it happened.
The legal tussles between Trump and Carroll have grown complex.
On 9 May, a jury found Trump had sexually abused Carroll. But just a day after the decision, Trump made disparaging remarks about her during a televised CNN town hall.
Those comments eventually prompted Carroll to go back to court to demand “very substantial” additional damages from Trump. An amended lawsuit seeking an additional $10m in compensatory damages – and more in punitive damages – was then filed in Manhattan by lawyers for Carroll.
Trump’s lawyers on Thursday noted in a written submission that the Manhattan federal court jury rejected the rape claim made by Carroll, concluding instead that she had been sexually abused in spring 1996 in the store’s dressing room.
“Such abuse could have included groping of plaintiff’s breasts through clothing, or similar conduct, which is a far cry from rape,” the lawyers wrote.
Following the verdict, a revised award should consist of no more than $400,000 for sex abuse, no more than $100,000 for defamation and $368,000 or less for the cost of a campaign to repair Carroll’s reputation, the lawyers wrote.
If a judge does not grant the suggested reduction in the award, then he should permit a new trial on damages, they said.
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said in an emailed statement that the arguments by Trump’s lawyers were frivolous.
She said the unanimous jury had concluded that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll and then defamed her “by lying about her with hatred, ill-will, or spite”.
“This time, Trump will not be able to escape the consequences of his actions,” Kaplan said.
Trump may still face a second defamation trial resulting from another lawsuit Carroll filed against him.
That case has been delayed with appeals as the US justice department sought to substitute the United States as the defendant in place of Trump. Government lawyers say Trump cannot be held liable for the comments he made as president.
Reuters contributed to this report
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