01-24-2006, 10:03 PM
Trump Files $5 Billion Law Suit
Trump's Billion-Dollar Defaming Claim
by Gina Serpe
Jan 24, 2006, 10:25 AM PT
The Donald's got a new suit, and no, it's not from the Trump Signature Collection.
The real estate mogul cum reality TV star has filed a $5 billion--yes, billion--defamation lawsuit against Warner Books and author Timothy O'Brien for publishing claims that Trump's net worth is considerably lower than he professes.
Though if he wins, it certainly won't be.
O'Brien, a New York Times reporter who has covered Trump's businesses for more than a decade, wrote in TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald that The Apprentice star had repeatedly exaggerated his wealth and "was not remotely close to being a billionaire."
The book actually pegs Trump's worth "somewhere between $150 million and $250 million," hardly chump change but a figure much lower than the billions the mogul says he has accumulated, and one he claims in the lawsuit is "grossly misrepresented."
In addition to appearing in O'Brien's book, published last year by Warner Books, the unflattering allegations also appeared in a story on the front page of the Times' business section.
"Rather than sitting back and letting false statements be published without challenge, I believe it is important to expose irresponsible, malicious and false reporting," Trump says in a statement.
In the lawsuit, filed Monday in New Jersey state court, Trump is seeking $2.5 billion in compensatory damages and $2.5 billion in punitive damages.
"The writer and publisher of this book knew full well that their statements were false and malicious, but in hopes of generating book sales, they did not care," Trump continues. "In so doing, they exposed themselves to this lawsuit."
The suit claims that O'Brien knowingly made egregious and misleading statements about Trump, his family, his personal life and his business dealings, though the main issue is the question over his net worth.
Trump said he provided full details of his finances to O'Brien prior to the book being published, the same details he previously made available to Forbes, which came up with an altogether different account of his holdings.
"Forbes magazine rigorously analyzed the very same book and records and other financial data that O'Brien and Warner chose to ignore, and concluded that Trump's net worth conservatively is at least $2.7 billion," Trump's lawyers trumpet in a statement.
Neither Warner Books nor the New York Times have commented on the matter, leaving the last word to Trump himself.
The book, Trump says, is "terribly written."