Judge: Unaired ‘Apprentice’ footage must be turned over for fraud suit


A federal judge has ruled that President Trump and his three oldest children cannot move to arbitration in a lawsuit alleging that they, and the Trump Corporation, illegally profited from endorsing a multilevel marketing company on The Apprentice. The multilevel marketing company is ACN Inc. An unidentified woman is suing for the release of unaired video footage of two episodes. Four unidentified people filed a class action complaint in October 2018.

Trump and his three oldest children were sued in 2018 for their roles in promoting ACN from 2005 to 2015 with Trump suggesting people could invest in the company’s desktop video phone with little or no risk. The service was quickly eclipsed with the advent of smartphones and the plaintiffs claim they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars by putting their faith in the Trumps.

U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield of the liberal Southern District of New York, an Obama appointee, ruled Thursday that the Trumps waived their right to resolve this dispute in private after waiting eight months and then receiving a dismissal of federal racketeering claims by the plaintiffs.

“Now that defendants have extracted what they can from the judicial proceedings, they seek to move to a different forum,” Schofield wrote.

“This conduct is both substantively prejudicial towards plaintiffs and seeks to use the [Federal Arbitration Act] as a vehicle to manipulate the rules of procedure to Defendants’ benefit and plaintiffs’ harm. Such tactics undermine a fundamental purpose of the FAA to support the economical resolution of claims,” she said.

The lawsuit alleges Trump promoted a number of businesses, allowing them to use his name, in which he knew the potential, unsophisticated investors would not recover their investments in attending seminars and training opportunities. The lawsuit targets the relationship between ACN and Trump’s endorsement of it on “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

According to the lawsuit, Trump claimed to have prior experience with the products ACN was pushing on investors, saying he had done substantial research and that he wasn’t being paid for his endorsement. In reality, however, Trump and his company reaped millions of dollars to promote the firm.

ACN is not a party to the dispute.

Judge Schofield dismissed the racketeering claims in July 2019 but she ruled that she has jurisdiction “over state claims for negligent misrepresentations, common-law fraud, and unfair and deceptive trade practices.” The rub comes in with the length of time it took for Trump’s legal representation to notify the plaintiffs they would seek arbitration on the remaining claims. That took eight months. So, when Trump’s lawyers then argued that the contractual obligations governing arbitration extended to the president, his children, and the Trump Company. The judge disagreed.

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MGM has been ordered to turn over the tapes, which will be the first time that unaired video with a look behind the scenes of the show has been viewed. Anti-Trump members of The Resistance are hoping the tapes produce some unsavory behavior from Trump, like Trump using racial slurs. Remember D-List personality Tom Arnold’s TV series “The Hunt for the Trump Tapes”? Me neither, but apparently it was a thing.

Long rumored to be a cesspool of inappropriate language and behavior by the well-produced host and his corporate posing family, the long resisting MGM has now been ordered to hand over tapes of unaired footage from the NBC reality TV series in a long-simmering class action over a marketing sleight of hand pulled by the Trumps on the show.

An attorney for the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan, released a statement. Roberta Kaplan, you may remember is a co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

“With last night’s opinion and today’s rulings, the Court has cleared away a number of remaining obstacles created by the defendants and third parties to proper discovery in this case,” Roberta Kaplan said on April 9 in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to gather the evidence to deliver justice for our brave clients, and thousands of others like them who were defrauded by the Trumps,” the Kaplan Hecker & Fink partner added.

MGM isn’t a party in the lawsuit but owns The Apprentice. The company has argued for months that complying with subpoenas is burdensome because of the outdated technology and filing systems used for the episodes. Trump and his children deny wrongdoing. His attorney said she will appeal the judge’s ruling.

How convenient that this lawsuit is making headlines now, right? It’s a presidential election year, you know, so any efforts to derail Trump’s re-election must come forward. Too bad not as much interest has been shown in Tara Reade’s rape claim against Joe Biden. Late Thursday, she filed a report of the incident with the sexual assault unit of the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department. Will that cause any interest at all from the mainstream press? I think we know it won’t unless they are forced to report on it. So far, that hasn’t happened.

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