In an Order Friday in a case in which an Italian fashion company accuses Ivanka Trump’s fashion label of creating copycat shoes (see our coverage of the complaint here), Judge Forrest ordered Ms. Trump to appear for a two-hour deposition, notwithstanding her claims to have had no personal involvement in the underlying issues:
The Court has considered whether, given the obvious time constraints that Ms. Trump must currently have (and of which this Court can take judicial notice based upon her position in the Trump Administration), it is nonetheless true that she is alleged to have personal involvement in the events at issue in this lawsuit. Accordingly, she cannot avoid a deposition in this matter. . .
It should be noted that this is not akin to what sometimes occurs when a party notices a high-level executive of a company, such as a CEO, in order to burden the company unnecessarily, harass the executive, and thereby gain some tactical advantage. In such cases, unless the party can show that the executive has personal knowledge of a fact at issue in the lawsuit, courts (and this Court) will often grant protective orders. Here, however, the situation is alleged to be different. Here, the allegations are that the executive whose deposition is sought has high-level, authoritative, personal involvement.
The Court has also considered the declaration from Ms. Trump in connection with this motion. While that declaration does assert a lack of personal knowledge of the design at issue, plaintiff asserts otherwise. That is the stuff of which factual disputes in litigation are made. We are therefore left with a situation in which Ms. Trump’s public statements regarding active and comprehensive brand management lead to a reasonable inference that the shoe at issue would not have been released without her approval. In such a situation, a deposition is appropriate.