Daily Mail Dismissed From Melania Trump Defamation Case in Montgomery County Court
Latest development leaves a Gaithersburg blogger on his own in the case brought by the first lady
Montgomery County Circuit Court
Gaithersburg blogger Webster Tarpley will be facing off on his own against first lady Melania Trump in Montgomery County Circuit Court.
On Thursday, Judge Sharon Burrell dismissed Trump’s defamation claim brought against the British tabloid Daily Mail. The publisher was the co-defendant in the case brought by Trump, who claims Tarpley and the tabloid each published an online article in August that falsely alleged she worked as an escort in New York City in the 1990s. Both stories were later retracted.
Burrell wrote in the 14-page order that Trump’s attorneys failed to prove the county court was the proper setting for her lawsuit against the Daily Mail. Burrell noted the publisher is based in London, where reporters wrote the story at the center of the case, and the story was posted online at the company’s New York office.
Trump attorney Charles Harder had attempted to make the point last week that the Maryland court had jurisdiction in the case because Daily Mail articles were viewed online by thousands of Maryland residents and the website collected revenue from advertisements based partly on pageviews from those residents.
Burrell dismissed the argument, saying in other cases involving national online publishers such as Facebook and the former gossip website Gawker that “revenue resulting from advertisements associated with these contacts has been ruled insufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the publishers.”
She noted the Daily Mail did not specifically target residents of Maryland with advertisements as compared to any other state.
The Daily Mail is also facing a lawsuit in the case in London and Trump’s attorneys said Thursday they would refile the case in New York City, according to The Washington Post.
Last week, Burrell declined Tarpley’s motion to dismiss the claims against him, which could set up a trial pitting the 71-year-old blogger against the first lady. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for June 27, while a 12-day trial has been scheduled to begin in early November, according to online court records.
Harder had originally claimed as much as $150 million in damages to Trump when the lawsuit was first filed in September, but it’s unclear how much money would be at stake in the county case now that the Daily Mail has been dismissed from it.
Editor's Note: Tarpley's address in court records is listed in Clarksburg, but the address is actually in Gaithersbug, south of Gaithersburg High School. We've updated the story to reflect this.