Trump would not take this position. He is, by any definition, a celebrity. Many celebrities have a history of using lawsuit first recourse in settling disputes.
Yesterday, Trump threatened a lawsuit if Ted Cruz does not take a campaign ad down that is predominantly made up of Trump’s own words footage in a 1999 interview saying he’s “very pro-choice.” Cruz has, with good reason, mocked the viability of such a claim, giving the sound bite that Trump has been bringing frivolous lawsuits his entire adult life.
Trump certainly has filed several unbelievable lawsuits. Here are a few highlights:
- He sued two brothers for using the Trump name, even though their last name was Trump. Reportedly, these guys were worth over ten times what Trump is worth, but somehow they were using the name to piggyback off of his success. The suit went nowhere.
- He sued his ex-wife for $25 million for talking about their relationship despite a confidentiality agreement. He might have technically been on the right side of this. But you get the point.
- Bill Maher joked that he would pay Trump $5 million if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan. Trump produced his birth certificate and sued for $5 million when Maher did not pay. This one has a real elementary school vibe to it, doesn’t it? Trump eventually dropped the case.
- He sued the Chicago Tribune for $500 million after the paper’s architecture critic wrote he thought the Chicago’s Sears Tower would remain its world’s tallest building title even though Trump has made a plan to build a taller building on the East River in Manhattan. Reportedly, Trump did not even hire an architect for the building. A federal court judge dismissed the case, ruling that you cannot sue someone for their subjective opinions.
Trump has filed three lawsuits against Univision, Palm Beach County, and celebrity chef José Andrés since he has declared as a presidential candidate.
I’m just scratching at the surface with this list. This article goes through many of the Trump lawsuits in greater detail. But you get my point and you probably did before you read this post. He’s litigious. Trump is willing to use the civil justice system to resolve any dispute that he might have.
How This Might Matter in Personal Injury Cases
Trump supporters do not neatly fit into a box. One common thread with many of his followers is authoritarian inclinations. I don’t want a jury filled with jurors with an authoritarian worldview. I think they are more inclined to think the plaintiff is just another person trying to use lawyers to take advantage of the system.
These people see their “tough guy, tell it is like it is” hero Donald Trump using the civil justice system to get what he wants. Is it possible that these same jurors admire Trump using the civil justice system to get what he “deserves” will open their hearts a little more to the possibility that an injury victim should be able to come forward and get a full measure of justice for the harm that was done to them? I think they might be a little more willing to hear our injury victims without closing their minds to the claim before the case starts.
I have been saying for years that celebrities often file lawsuits as the first line of attack when they have disputes and this generally tears down jurors’ respect and trust in the civil justice system. They view these lawsuits as frivolous — because they usually are — and it makes them skeptical of injured plaintiffs seeking justice. But Donald Trump turns all conventional wisdom on its head, doesn’t he? His lengthy history of threatening and filing lawsuits might be a net positive for personal injury victims.
I’m not pretending this will have a colossal impact on how Trump supporters value personal injury cases. But I think this might provide some inroads with hard to reach jurors.