Editor’s Note: This article was first published on February 16, 2016.
Donald Trump has been named in at least 169 federal lawsuits, according to a LawNewz.com investigation. In about 138 of the cases, he is named as a defendant. They read like a history of Trump’s business failures, successes, and bombastic personality. With Trump threatening a lawsuit against Ted Cruz, his surge in the polls, and his big win in New Hampshire, we thought now was as good a time as any to review of some of the Donald’s legal skirmishes. The federal lawsuits that we reviewed date back to 1983 and involve everything from business disputes, antitrust claims and, more recently, accusations that Trump’s campaign statements are discriminatory against minorities. Some of the cases have been resolved, some were dismissed as frivolous, and others were privately settled. He’s been sued by celebrities, personal assistants, prisoners, people in mental hospitals, unions, and wealthy businessmen. Of course, Donald Trump has also done his fair share of suing as well. The lawsuits on both sides provide a unique glimpse into some of the biggest battles involving the presidential candidate. Just a note, the cases listed below only include those filed in U.S. federal court. Who knows how many others were filed in state courts around the country.
Here are some highlights in chronological order:
- The first lawsuit we found was filed in 1983 by Harry Diduck, Joseph Hardy and members of the Local 95 pension fund against Donald Trump and Trump’s organization. Diduck’s and his crew contended that Trump cheated workers out of at least $300,000 in contributions to its benefit funds by secretly employing nonunion workers during the building of Trump Tower. After years of litigation including a bench trial, the case was finally closed in 1999, but we can’t get the details because the settlement agreement is sealed.
- The U.S. Department of Justice sued Trump for an antitrust violation in 1988 and won. Trump was forced to pay $750,000. The real-estate magnate agreed to pay the penalty stemming from his attempted takeovers of two companies. The feds said that his stock purchases in the companies violated the FTC’s notification requirements.
- 1990 was a big legal year for Donald Trump. He was named as a defendant in 21 lawsuits filed by different businesses and individuals. Several sued him for securities fraud and breach of contract. Most of the complaints stem from the Trump’s corporation filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from creditors following the building of the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. By 1991, the resort was nearly $3 billion in debt, according to the New York Times.
- It’s not just Trump being sued. He has sued Palm Beach, where he has a home, at least three different times. In 1992, he filed a $100 million lawsuit over the membership club Mar-a-Lago, the council eventually “acquiesced” and allowed him to make some of his property into a private club. He then sued the Palm Beach Airport for noise violations, and tried to prevent them from expanding near his private club. Palm Beach County estimates that legal fights with Trump related to the airport have cost taxpayers at least $600,000. The most entertaining is probably the $25 million lawsuit he filed against the town, who cited him for displaying an American flag on his property. “The town council of Palm Beach should be ashamed of itself,” Trump said, according to Politico. “They’re fining me for putting up the American flag. This is probably a first in United States history.”
- Trump filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against wealthy financier Jay Pritzker in 1993 over the family’s management of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. The two were equal partners in the deal.
- In 1995, the personal assistant to Donald Trump’s ex-wife Marla filed a federal lawsuit against them that went on for years. It reads like an article in the National Inquirer, with accusations of nude pictures being sent to tabloids, and panty stealing. In 2003, a judge finally dismissed the case, calling the plaintiff’s case full of “ramblings.”
- In the late 1990s, a Florida woman filed a $125 million lawsuit alleging that in 1993 Trump sexually harassed her and pulled out of a deal when she didn’t respond to his advances. Trump denied the claims, and it looks like the case was eventually withdrawn.
- A New Hampshire man, upset he didn’t appear on Trump’s reality show The Apprentice, sued for allegedly discriminating against an older contestant. The 51-year-old withdrew his lawsuit after entering into a settlement agreement, according to Law 360.
- A college student filed a lawsuit against Trump’s profit seeking college, Trump University, and a federal judge eventually ordered the school pay $798,000 in legal fees, according to Courthouse News. The student claimed the university and Trump engaged in deceptive practices, and that the seminars were nothing more than infomercials. Trump’s name was eventually dropped from the suit.
- In 2013, the New York AG sued Trump for $40 million saying he helped run a phony school — Trump University — which made false claims and steered students towards useless seminars.
- Rafel Oliveras and Lopez De Victoria who live in Puerto Rico filed a lawsuit last year. The duo claim “Candidate Donald Trump publicly disgraced and discriminated against Hispanics by wholesale comparing them with murderers, rapists and known gang members.” The couple wants him barred him from seeking the office of President of the United States all together. Good luck, with that one.
- The most recent lawsuit was filed in December by Federick Banks — who says he is an American Indian Witch. He also sued the CIA director.
From inmates to millionaires, Donald Trump has become a familiar name on courtroom dockets and his legal battles will almost certainly continue so LawNewz will review any new lawsuits filed, or missed, and dutifully add them to our list.