A New Jersey appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Donald Trump against a book author who claimed the real estate magnate/reality TV star isn’t really a billionaire.
In a ruling, the appeals court affirms that Trump hasn’t demonstrated that author Timothy O’Brien committed “actual malice” by citing three unnamed sources who estimated the net worth of The Apprentice star to be between $150 million and $250 million.
Trump filed the $5 billion lawsuit in 2009 over O’Brien’s book, TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald. The lawsuit was rejected in 2009 by a New Jersey superior judge. Trump then appealed the judgment on the theory that relying on anonymous sources could rise to the actual malice standard needed for public figures to prevail in a libel suit.
But a New Jersey appeals court doesn’t see the logic here. According to the decision:
“There were no significant internal inconsistencies in the information provided by the confidential sources, nor was there ‘reliable’ information that contradicted their reports, so as to provide evidence of actual malice. Nothing suggests that O’Brien was subjectively aware of the falsity of his source’s figures or that he had actual doubts as to the information’s accuracy.”
The latest decision will likely give Trump another reason to gripe about the nation’s libel laws. In past public comments, Trump has said these laws “have never been fair.”
As for Trump’s own estimation of his net worth, Trump’s lawyer says it has been “proven conclusively” to exceed $7 billion.
Then again, during a deposition, Trump admitted that his sense of financial worth depends on his feelings day-to-day. Asked whether it was really true that his “net worth goes up and down based upon [his] own feelings,” here’s Trump’s funny response:
“Yes, even my own feelings, as to where the world is, where the world is going, and that can change rapidly from day to day. Then you have a September 11th, and you don’t feel so good about yourself and you don’t feel so good about the world and you don’t feel so good about New York City. Then you have a year later, and the city is as hot as a pistol. Even months after that it was a different feeling. So yeah, even my own feelings affect my value to myself.”