Lawyer's failure to explain fine print nixes deal to stay silent on Trump, ex-Playboy model says
Karen McDougal. Photo by Toglenn, via Wikimedia Commons.
A former Playboy model has filed a lawsuit claiming she has no obligation to stay silent about her relationship with Donald Trump because of alleged failures by her own lawyer.
The suit by former Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal says the publisher of the National Enquirer paid $150,000 to buy and bury her story about Trump, the New York Times reports. Her lawyer’s fee agreement gave him 45 percent of the total, the suit says.
McDougal says the lawyer representing her in negotiations with the publisher, American Media Inc., didn’t tell her about the contract’s fine print and had notified Trump’s lawyer about the deal, even though Trump was not a party.
AMI publishes several magazines and tabloids, including Men’s Fitness, Star, and OK magazines.The owner of AMI is close personal friends with Trump, according to the suit.
McDougal says she agreed to the deal because it included “a highly lucrative contract” guaranteeing her two magazine covers, along with weekly print and online articles. But her lawyer “failed to tell Ms. McDougal that the contract’s fine print did not actually obligate AMI to run her columns—the central feature of AMI’s promise to create ongoing positive exposure for Ms. McDougal,” the suit says.
The suit alleges that AMI was secretly negotiating to kill other negative stories for Trump. McDougal also cites a New York Times story that said AMI and her lawyer had notified Trump lawyer Michael Cohen about the deal.
The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the contract is void due to fraud and illegality.
McDougal was represented by Los Angeles lawyer Keith Davidson, who also represented Stormy Daniels when she signed a confidentiality agreement with Trump’s lawyer, the New York Times reports. Daniels is seeking to void a confidentiality agreement because Donald Trump didn’t sign it.
McDougal says she fired Davidson after the Wall Street Journal wrote a story about the contract, which provided “her first inkling that she had been duped.” With pro bono help from First Amendment lawyer Ted Boutrous. McDougal negotiated an amendment allowing her to respond to “legitimate press inquiries” about Trump, the suit says.
But AMI provided a public relations team and misleading ghostwritten emails that suppressed the true story, McDougal says.
Boutrous is a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Trump’s lawyers were seeking to hire Boutrous’ partner, Theodore Olson, to join the Trump legal team in the Russia investigation. Boutrous announced on Twitter that Olson rejected the proposal.
A spokesman for Davidson told the Times that Davidson “fulfilled his obligations and zealously advocated for Ms. McDougal to accomplish her stated goals at that time.” Additional comment would violate the attorney-client privilege, the statement says.