NEW YORK – Former President Donald Trump has settled a lawsuit filed by a group of protesters who say they were roughed up by the Republican's private security guards during his 2015 presidential campaign.
The two sides settled as a jury was being selected in a New York courtroom for a civil trial, one of a spate of legal entanglements involving the former president.
On Wednesday, Trump filed a lawsuit in Florida seeking to thwart one of those cases, a suit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James that alleges Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, inflated his net worth by billions of dollars and misled banks and others for years about the value of various assets.
Details of the settlement in the protesters' lawsuit were not divulged.
“Although we were eager to proceed to trial to demonstrate the frivolousness of this case, the parties were ultimately able to come to an amicable resolution,” said Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba. “We are very pleased with this outcome and are happy to finally put this matter to rest once and for all.”
The lawsuit was brought by five New Yorkers of Mexican origin. It alleges Trump’s bodyguards attacked them outside his Manhattan skyscraper on Sept. 3, 2015, as they protested negative comments Trump made about Mexico and Mexican immigrants. News reporters recorded the guards ripping signs out of the protesters' hands, then scuffling with some of them.
“Powerful men may put their names on buildings, but the sidewalk will always belong to the people,” the protesters' attorney, Benjamin Dictor, said in an email following the settlement announcement.
“Defendants were staring down the barrel of a Bronx jury who were about to be presented with overwhelming evidence in support of plaintiffs’ claims. Nevertheless, plaintiffs are proud to have settled their claims and to have obtained written recognition by Donald Trump of their right to protest on the public sidewalk,” Dictor said.
Trump sat for a deposition a year ago, which would have been played for the jury.
Trump was a defendant in the lawsuit, along with the Trump Organization, his presidential campaign and security personnel.
Among other demands, the plaintiffs wanted Trump to pay punitive damages, arguing he should have known the security personnel would act in a “negligent or reckless manner.”
Trump’s lawyers had resisted having him sit for the deposition. While he was in office, they argued there must be “exceptional circumstances” to depose a high-ranking government official.
Bronx Judge Doris Gonzalez, who presided over the case, rejected that argument, saying it didn’t apply because Trump was being called to answer for conduct outside of office.
In his lawsuit filed Wednesday in Palm Beach County, Florida, Trump alleged James' effort to gain access to, and monitor, his revocable trust violates Florida privacy laws. The suit says the trust contains his private estate plan and decisions regarding the disposition of his assets upon death.
James' suit against Trump seeks, among other sanctions, payment of at least $250 million, which she says was the estimated worth of benefits derived from the alleged fraud, and to ban Trump and his three eldest children from ever again running a company based in the state.
In Trump's suit, the former president referred to James' lawsuit as “abusive,” “intimidating” and “harassing,” and part of a “vitriolic and obsessive pursuit of President Trump.”
In May, a federal judge in New York dismissed a separate lawsuit filed by Trump against James, rejecting his argument that she targeted him out of political animus and allowing her investigation into his business practices to continue.
A spokesperson for James said Thursday that the attorney general "sued Donald Trump because he committed extensive financial fraud. That fact hasn’t changed, and neither will our resolve to ensure that no matter how powerful or political one might be, no one is above the law.”