In September, Melania Trump filed a lawsuit for defamation against the Daily Mail’s parent company, Mail Media, as well as 70-year-old Maryland-based blogger Webster Griffin Tarpley.
In the case of the Mail, they had published a story that included claims from a Slovenian magazine that a modeling agency Trump worked with in her early days as a model also served as an escort agency. As for Tarpley, he wrote a blog post that stated Trump is “obsessed by fear of salacious revelations by wealthy clients from her time as a high-end escort.” Per the Washington Post, “Tarpley has addressed the matter on his blog, saying he did not defame Melania Trump and he had simply passed on rumors and innuendo of others in his Aug. 2 ‘Morning Briefing’ post.”
Both articles have since been retracted, though the First Lady is still seeking damages of $150 million. And, as of Friday morning, she’s won the first round of the suit against Tarpley.
Per Politico, Tarpley’s lawyers attempted to get the case dismissed – arguing that it didn’t meet the standard of “actual malice,” as well as invoking “a Maryland law aimed at quickly shutting down bad-faith lawsuits intended to intimidate people speaking out on issues of public concern.”
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell rejected those attempts, ruling:
“The court finds the plaintiff has stated a claim for defamation. The court believes most people, when they hear the words ‘high-end escort’ that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute.”
Per the Associated Press, the ruling on a similar motion from the Daily Mail has been deferred.