Former Celebrity Apprentice Contestant Settles Long-Running Defamation Suit Against Trump

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on the TV show The Apprentice, reacts while speaking to reporters about allegations of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump during a news conference in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

On November 12th, Summer Zervos, a former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant, settled her defamation suit against Donald Trump.

Zervos sued Trump just days before he took office in 2016, after he called her a liar when she accused  him of sexually assaulting her in 2007. 

For the majority of Trump’s term in office, the lawsuit was stalled by a debate over whether the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution barred state courts from interfering with a sitting president’s official duties. Trump tried in March 2019 to have the case dismissed on this basis, but an intermediate court, the First Judicial Department, rejected his argument, citing the Supreme Court decision Clinton v. Jones (1997) that established that a sitting president could be sued in state courts over matters unrelated to their official duties. 

The settlement comes a month before Zervos and Trump were set to undergo testimony under oath, and could have been in response to Trump’s attorney’s statement last month that she intended to bring counterclaims against Zervos under New York’s new anti-SLAPP law.

Anti-SLAPP laws (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) are intended to prevent people from using courts, or potential threats of a lawsuit, to intimidate people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Zervos’ attorney told Courthouse News that she still “stands by the allegations in her complaint and has accepted no compensation.”


Courthouse News