7:04am PT by Eriq Gardner
Melania Trump's Defamation Lawsuit Against Mail Media Moves to New York
A Maryland judge's decision last week to dismiss Melania Trump's defamation lawsuit against Mail Media, parent company of The Daily Mail, has prompted the First Lady of the United States to submit a new complaint in New York. She's also announced a settlement with Webster Griffin Tarpley, a Maryland blogger who previously was a co-defendant over a disputed report about Ms. Trump's past.
In seeking damages over stories that she emigrated to the United States only to work at an escort agency, Trump couldn't get past a jurisdictional hurdle in attempting to stick the case in Maryland as a circuit judge there ruled, "[T]here is nothing about the parties that connects the case against MMI to Maryland — MMI does not have an office in Maryland, Plaintiff does not live in Maryland, and the witnesses are not located in Maryland."
Instead, upon Mail Media's suggestion in court briefs that New York was a more proper forum, Trump and her attorney Charles Harder will fight this battle in the Big Apple over a story headlined, "Naked photoshoots, and troubling questions about visas that won't go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump's Slovenian wife."
Trump contends the story is false and is primed to argue the publication was negligent in relying upon the work of a Slovenian journalist who had co-authored an unauthorized biography about her.
Her new complaint begins differently than the one submitted in Maryland with newfound emphasis on the "commercial harm done to her, her commercial brand and her business opportunities," with discussion of product deals for jewelry, accessories and skin care products, and how she was deprived of "major business opportunities."
Trump seeks $150 million.
As for Tarpley, the Maryland judge allowed Trump's claims to move forward, but the First Lady has decided not to fight him in court any longer. No word on whether this is connected to her inability to pursue Mail Media in Maryland, but perhaps with hope that Mail Media's non-involvement would take heat off of him, Tarpley did previously attempt to sever claims. The judge wouldn't allow that and also ruled that Trump had stated a plausible claim of defamation, but thanks to Mail Media's successful motion, he ultimately got his wish to fight separately. Now, the lawsuit against him ends just days after the ruling.
"The First Lady of the United States has settled her lawsuit against Webster Griffin Tarpley of Maryland," says one of her attorneys, adding that Tarpley has issued a retraction and apology to Trump and agreed to pay her a "substantial sum."