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Trump refuses to delay Florida deposition in phone-fraud case despite hurricane

Erik Larson, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Former President Donald Trump’s deposition in an investors’ class-action fraud lawsuit over his promotion of a failed desktop video phone was delayed by Hurricane Ian that’s ravaging large parts of Florida.

The investors’ lawyer sought a postponement saying the Category 4 hurricane that slammed the west coast of Florida Wednesday made questioning Trump under oath unsafe at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump opposed the delay.

The dispute led to a bitter war of words between lawyers in dueling letters to the court Wednesday. The judge ultimately ordered the two sides to agree on a new date for the deposition, adding it must be held before Oct. 31.

Hurricane Ian was “battering the Florida peninsula with catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Cave wrote, citing the National Hurricane Center. “Under these conditions, whether the deposition could occur on Friday, even remotely, is uncertain.”

Trump, his company and his three oldest children were sued in 2018 by four investors who claim they were duped into paying thousands of dollars to become independent sellers with ACN Opportunity LLC, which sold a doomed videophone device that the Trumps touted as the next big thing but which was rendered obsolete by smartphones.

Trump fought for years to avoid the deposition but ultimately agreed earlier this year to answer questions under oath, after his attempt to dismiss the suit failed. The case is one of the lesser known yet significant legal disputes facing the former president as he weighs possible 2024 run for the White House.

 

Cave’s order came after a bitter back and forth between Trump’s lawyers and those representing the investors.

Roberta Kaplan, the investors’ lawyer, wrote to the judge Wednesday saying she offered to reschedule the deposition or move it from Mar-a-Lago to Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, because of the storm. But Trump’s lawyers refused, she said.

“We do not believe that is prudent or safe, and we have been unable to obtain defendants’ agreement to reschedule (or relocate) the deposition,” Kaplan said in the letter.

Trump’s lawyers responded in a blistering letter later Wednesday, contradicting Kaplan.

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