In an opinion Friday, Judge Kaplan denied a motion by former President Donald Trump to amend his answer to add a counterclaim against the plaintiff, E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of defamation based on his public statements alleging that she fabricated sexual assault allegations against him (see our prior coverage here).
The proposed counterclaim would have sought attorney fees and other relief under New York’s anti-SLAPP law. Judge Kaplan found that the counterclaim was futile, but went further to emphasize that the counterclaim was part of a larger pattern of stalling, including: evading service; pursuing “frivolous motions practice”; seeking a stay in favor of another case, even though Trump previously argued the other case was unrelated; and, finally, attempting to have the Attorney General intervene.
Judge Kaplan found these tactics to be improper:
Taken together, these actions demonstrate that defendant’s litigation tactics have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity plaintiff may have to present her case against him. That conclusion draws further support from the facts that (1) the plaintiff is the only percipient witness (other than the defendant) to the alleged rape, and (2) she is 78 years of age. The relevance of these facts is obvious.
. . .
Plaintiffs only claim in this case is a single count of defamation. It could have been tried and decided — one way or the other — long ago. The record convinces this Court that the defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case to an extent that readily could have been far less. Granting leave to amend without considering the futility of the proposed amendment needlessly would make a regrettable situation worse by opening new avenues for significant further delay. That would unduly prejudice plaintiff which, in my view, is a motive for defendant’s position on this motion.