Melania Trump has won the first round in a $150 million lawsuit she filed against a blogger and publications including British Daily Mail, who called her a “high-end escort”.
Melania began the process of filling the case in September in Montgomery County, Maryland, alleging the Maryland-based author Webster G. Tarpley committed libel against her when he called her a prostitute.
The Daily Mail was also referenced in the suit for repeated accusations of slander.
These defendants made several statements about Mrs. Trump that are 100 percent false and tremendously damaging to her personal and professional reputation
attorney Charles Harder said while preparing for the legal battle.
In a recent update to the case, lawyers for Tarpley and They Daily Mail requested the lawsuit be dismissed, but Judge Sharon Burrel rejected their argument that it didn’t meet “actual malice” standards for Libel against public figures Politico reported.
Judge Burrel said it looked pretty clear that “high-end escort” can appear to mean “prostitute,” and that was enough argument to justify a charge of libel.
Judge Burrel said:
The court believes most people, when they hear the words ‘high-end escort’ that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute
The judge did not clarify, though, if British Daily Mail’s inclusion in the case would be upheld, given that it’s a foreign corporation.
As for the other arguments put forward by Trapley’s attorney, Judge Burrel was unconvinced.
She disagreed that the comments should be given immunity under the First Amendment, since Melania is not herself running for public office—she is simply the wife of a public figure, and therefore can expect some protection under the common law.
Burrel also didn’t accept Tarpley’s claims that his insults were just “rhetorical hyperbole” meant to enrich his text—she said this argument was basically nothing but “word games” designed to absolve him of wrongdoing.
On the other side, on of Melania’s arguments was likewise dismissed.
Her counsel claimed that the libel accusations harmed Melania’s current and future business deals, but the Judge said there was no clear evidence that this was the case.
However, she said she would revisit this if tangible evidence was shown.