Tort Law

Ex-Miss USA contestant must pay $5M to Donald Trump; judge blames her 'poor choice of counsel'

A former beauty contestant must pay $5 million to Donald Trump for defaming his Miss USA pageant, a federal judge in Manhattan has ruled.

Upholding an arbitration award, which determined that the well-known millionaire’s company had suffered a seven-figure loss from a potential sponsor after she resigned as Miss Pennsylvania USA last year and complained that the contest was rigged, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken blamed Sheena Monnin’s attorney for her situation but said he had to follow the law, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review. The New York Daily News also has a story.

Monnin contended, in a Facebook post and on NBC’s Today Show, that results of the Miss USA pageant were determined in advance. The pageant organization made an arbitration claim against her, seeking damages for alleged defamation and breach of contract.

Monnin’s former counsel, attorney Richard Klineburger III of Philadelphia, advised her not to participate in the arbitration, according to the judge. Now she is “undeniably is suffering from her poor choice of counsel,” Oetken wrote, citing Klineburger’s absence during arbitration and the fact that he “presented no evidence on her behalf over the course of several months.”

The articles don’t include any comment from Klineburger. He did not respond to a request for comment, the Tribune Review says.

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