E. Jean Carroll seeks $10 million in damages from Trump over post-verdict statements

E. Jean Carroll at Manhattan federal court in New York

By Luc Cohen and Jack Queen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Writer E. Jean Carroll sought on Monday to amend the first of her two defamation lawsuits against Donald Trump to demand at least $10 million in additional damages, citing comments he made on CNN after a jury found him liable for sexually abusing her.

A federal jury in Manhattan on May 9 found Trump sexually abused Carroll in the 1990s and then defamed her by lying about it in October 2022. The jury ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages. Trump has appealed the verdict and has called Carroll's claims a "complete con job."

On Monday, Carroll's lawyers pointed to Trump's posts on Truth Social calling the verdict a "disgrace" and criticism of Carroll on CNN on May 10 in arguing that she should be allowed to amend her earlier lawsuit, which alleges Trump defamed her by denying the incident in 2019 comments, while he was president.

"Trump's defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll since it is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will or spite," her lawyers wrote. "This conduct supports a very substantial punitive damages award."

Trump's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.

Carroll testified at trial that Trump lured her into a dressing room in the lingerie section at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in either 1995 or 1996, then slammed her against a wall and raped her. Two of Carroll's friends told jurors that she told them about the incident shortly after it happened.

During a CNN town hall the day after the verdict, Trump said he "never met this woman" and called Carroll's account a "fake," "made up story" invented by a "whack job." Those statements are the basis of Carroll's new filings.

Carroll, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, filed her second lawsuit for both defamation and battery after New York passed a law giving sexual assault victims a new window to sue even if the statute of limitations had passed.

Her original Nov 2019 lawsuit has been bogged down in appeals over whether Trump was immune from being sued because he had been president when he spoke.

Carroll's lawyers said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday that because Trump's alleged defamatory statements were essentially the same, the only open issues are whether he was immune for making the first statement, and if not what damages he owes.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Jack Queen and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Stephen Coates)