May 22, 2018 / 2:00 PM / 6 months ago

Trump seeks delay in Summer Zervos' defamation lawsuit

NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump asked New York state’s highest court to delay a defamation lawsuit against him by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” television show who claimed he sexually harassed her.

In a filing on Monday, Trump told the state’s Court of Appeals that Summer Zervos’ lawsuit should be put on hold because a sitting U.S. president is immune from being sued in a state court during his term in the White House.

Zervos’ lawyer did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.

Trump, who has denied Zervos’ allegations, is challenging a March 20 ruling by Justice Jennifer Schecter of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan allowing the case to proceed.

Saying “no one is above the law,” Schecter rejected Trump’s claim of immunity over private conduct predating his becoming president.

An intermediate state appeals court on May 17 refused to halt Zervos’ lawsuit, without ruling on its merits.

Trump said that refusal qualified as a “final appealable order” justifying intervention by the Court of Appeals.

A preliminary conference before Schecter is scheduled for June 5, court records show.

Zervos accused Trump of subjecting her to unwanted kissing and groping after she sought career advice in 2007.

She came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign, and Trump called such allegations by women “lies.” He also retweeted a post calling Zervos’ claims a “hoax.”

Zervos said Trump defamed her by branding her a liar. She is seeking a retraction or an apology, compensatory damages and punitive damages in her lawsuit. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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