Lawsuit, certified as class action, seeks damages in the millions of dollars
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has certified as class action a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his presidential campaign for recklessly inflicting emotional distress on voters. The case is expected to go to trial this fall.
“This class action certification is a victory for tens of millions of Americans who cannot concentrate on their jobs during the day or sleep in their beds at night because of the daily barrage of outrageous statements coming out of the mouth of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump,” says Steve Parker, counsel for the plaintiffs. “What this certification says is, we as a country are being treated to intolerable statements that betray the standards of civilized decency, and now it is a matter of deciding whether these statements rise to the level of meriting damages. We, of course, believe they do when all the facts are shown.”
Courts have generally applied four tests to determine whether damages are warranted in emotional distress cases under tort law:
- Did the defendant act intentionally or recklessly?
- Was the defendant’s conduct extreme and outrageous?
- Did the defendant’s act cause the distress?
- Did plaintiff (or plaintiffs) suffer severe emotional distress as a result of defendant’s conduct?
In addition, the conduct must be considerd “heinous” and “utterly intolerable in a civilized society.”
“We think it’s pretty clear that Donald Trump cleared these legal hurdles when he threatened to ban a religion from our country, insulted minorities and veterans, trafficked in conspiracy theories, advocated war crimes, and seditiously invited foreign meddling in our elections,” Parker says.
Parker also cited Trump’s willful refusal to do even the most basic fact-gathering before opening his mouth. “Are people fearful? Of course,” he says. “Are people exhibiting signs of emotional distress? Absolutely. It’s an outrage that an election campaign has put much of the country into a state of emotional turmoil. We need relief, and the election is sadly not going to bring that relief, because Trump has already said he’s going to call the election rigged after voting is complete and delegitimize the result. The only way Americans are going to get relief is if we win damages, because that’s the one thing that will compensate for the mental distress he’s causing.”
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