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Donald Trump is making good on his threats following Univision’s decision to sever ties with him over his remarks about immigrants. The mogul and presidential candidate filed a $500-million lawsuit against Univision on Tuesday, claiming the Hispanic media organization violated its contract with him and his Miss Universe Organization.
Univision on Thursday announced it would end its business relationship with Trump due to his June 16 speech declaring his candidacy for president, during which he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists.” Univision stated it no longer would air the Miss USA Pageant on July 12 or any other project connected to the Trump organization.
Trump claims in the lawsuit that his Miss Universe Organization sealed a $13.5 million licensing deal in January in which Univision agreed to broadcast the organization’s pageants from 2015 through 2019.
In his widely criticized speech, Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
“Simply stated, there is nothing in the Agreement which gives Univision the right to terminate its relationship with [the Miss Universe Organization],” states the complaint, which was filed in the New York State Supreme Court by Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman’s Jeffrey Goldman.
The complaint includes claims of breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In a separate claim of intentional interference with contractual relations, Trump accuses Univision of “engaging in behind the scenes lobbying of their former colleagues” at NBC, leading the network to terminate its relationship with him. NBC’s termination of its relationship with Trump leaves the Miss USA Pageant with no English or Spanish broadcaster.
In addition to the contractual claims, Trump is suing for defamation, claiming untruthful statements by Univision and its executives have despoiled his image. These statements include an Instagram post by Univision Networks president of programming and content Alberto Ciurana, who is a separately named defendant, that compared Trump to Charleston, S.C., shooter Dylann Roof.
“While Mr. Ciurana would later remove the defamatory post, the damage was already done: Mr. Ciurana’s post was picked up by the media and became the subject of hundreds, if not thousands, of press articles, yet another example of Univision’s dubious efforts to create a false narrative in an attempt to upset Mr. Trump’s longstanding personal and business relationship with the Hispanic community,” states the complaint.
Says Trump in the statement: “Under the contract, Univision is required to broadcast the pageant live on television in Spanish. While Univision claims its decision came solely in response to comments by Mr. Trump during a June 16, 2015 campaign speech announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, the decision was, in reality, a politically motivated attempt to suppress Mr. Trump’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment.”
The statement continues: “Prior to violating the contract, a high ranking Univision executive called and apologized to Mr. Trump explaining that the company’s actions were wrong and that they felt ashamed.”
In response to the filing, Univision countered: “We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous. We will not only vigorously defend the case, but will continue to fight against Mr. Trump’s ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made on June 16th about Mexican immigrants. Our decision to end our business relationship with Mr. Trump was influenced solely by our responsibility to speak up for the community we serve.”
Below is a copy of the complaint.
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