Bill Maher Prevails Over Donald Trump Lawsuit By Sitting and Waiting for the Donald to Figure Out to Drop It Himself

In February, I wrote about a particularly fake-haired boneheaded lawsuit that Donald Trump brought against comedian Bill Maher.  As you may recall, Trump accused Maher of breach of contract based on a joke that Maher had made on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in which he had jokingly — really, completely obviously, jokingly — offered $5 million to the charity of Trump’s choice (the Hair Club for Men was Maher’s suggestion) if the real-estate mogul-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-national-punchline could provide proof that he was not, in fact, “the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”  Ignoring the scientific impossibility of humans and orangutans being capable of producing offspring, and surely torturing his poor lawyer (whom he conscripted to respond to Maher), Trump purported to “accept” this offer by sending Maher a letter enclosing a copy of his birth certificate (short form only, though!) and demanding payment of the $5 million.  When Maher did not respond to the letter, Trump went bananas and filed a lawsuit.

After recounting Bill Maher’s hilarious response to the lawsuit, I boldly joined the near-consensus of legal observers in predicting that Trump would lose the lawsuit.  And I’m here to report, I was wrong — Trump never even had a chance to lose the case, because he dismissed the lawsuit himself, perhaps as a result of his lawyers reaching the same conclusion I did.  (Or perhaps, Trump’s simian brain finally realized that the situation had evolved beyond his control.)


Sadly, now that The Donald has apparently learned what a joke is and what a contract is, those of us who regularly watch Bill Maher’s show will probably no longer get our weekly dose of laughs at The Donald’s expense.  And with that loss, you might ask:  why is this update worth writing about?  Because Bill Maher now has to decide whether to try to make Trump pay for monkeying around with the legal system.

As I noted when Trump’s case first bombarded the headlines with its inanity, Maher’s menu of potential responses to Trump’s lawsuit included a so-called “anti-SLAPP motion,” a type of motion directed at lawsuits that chill first amendment expression and other exercises of constitutional rights — which, if successful, could make Trump liable for Maher’s attorneys’ fees in defending the claim.  Now that Trump has withdrawn his lawsuit (though, his lawyers insist, only “temporarily”), that option seems to be off the table.  But Maher still might be able to sue Trump for malicious prosecution.

Malicious prosecution actions allow a defendant who successfully fends off a frivolous lawsuit to pursue the defeated plaintiff for damages, such as for attorneys’ fees or emotional distress.  And, while malicious prosecution actions are generally disfavored by courts, so are rich idiots who think the law is a toy to play with.  In other words, just because Trump dismissed the lawsuit voluntarily does not mean that Bill Maher can’t sue him for malicious prosecution.

If Maher decides to proceed with a malicious prosecution action, he would need to prove three things:  (1) that Trump’s lawsuit resulted in a favorable termination for Maher; (2) that the lawsuit was begun with malice; and (3) that it was prosecuted without “probable cause.”

Here, the first element is easily met:  Trump dismissed the lawsuit.  The second element is also probably met (though Trump could at least try to deny it):  Trump’s lawsuit was initiated for an improper purpose, i.e., no reasonable person would file a lawsuit based on the scientifically impossible premise of humans being able to produce offspring with orangutans.  Finally, the third element is probably met:  no reasonable attorney would believe this lawsuit to have merit.

While “good faith reliance on the advice of counsel, after truthful disclosure of all the relevant facts, is a complete defense to a malicious prosecution claim,” can anyone really say that The Donald acted in good faith here?  The Donald probably can’t blame his lawyers for not telling him that this lawsuit lacked merit.  In my own (admittedly, extremely, infuriatedly biased) view, any reasonable person would have known that without needing a lawyer’s advice.

Alas, Bill Maher seems, by temperament, much more inclined toward brutal takedowns on the comedy stage than in the courtroom.  Maybe he can just offer Trump $5 million if Trump can prove that his lawsuit was not conceived by a room full of monkeys working on typewriters who accidentally produced a page that read, “Sue the comedian!”


9 Responses to “Bill Maher Prevails Over Donald Trump Lawsuit By Sitting and Waiting for the Donald to Figure Out to Drop It Himself”

  1. GM says:

    Trumps a rich bitch baby who thinks every thing he does or says is right and all the rest of us are wrong.Im quite sure he hangs out with koch brothers?A couple more whoes money means more than world life its self.

  2. tim says:

    So does that mean, i can put up ads saying people who are unsatisfied with the product i’m selling will receive $5000. I mean i will hire a comedian to say it in the ad.
    Since it is a joke, and it is up to the customers to figure it out, rather than take a parody ad right.

  3. Cyrus says:

    You left wing loon. An offer was made & accepted. That’s a contract. One Maher broke. You can’t hide behind a claim of it being a joke to not be liable. What really gets me is that Maher even claims to be a comedian.

    • byron says:

      well, admittedly, he’s not as funny as you, but he is funny

    • Smiles says:

      To Cyrus:
      Someone who tell’s jokes for a living, is not a comedian in your book? I’m an independent though I often lean towards the right voting wise. But do not agree with social issues because I’m not a bigot. People like you are the reason why conservatives are looked at as idiots and assholes.

      Cheers Dan, intelligent article.

    • Octavius Spender says:

      Yes because Trump’s mom really had sex with an ape. You’re such an idiot you shouldn’t even be allowed on the Internet.

  4. sam says:

    Cyrus,you sir are a fool.Bill Maher understands that a non hominid species can not mate and produce offspring with one. Only a moron does not understand that.If because of your height I say you look like the offspring of mickey mouse,is that a breach of contract,at least this is in writing.a comedian tells jokes,since that is absolutely impossible,you don’t think that was a joke from a comedian. If you are short and you try and prove mickey is not your father,your a moron as well as short.

  5. dahszil says:

    Trump likes to squash free speech with lawsuites. he is a tyrant. he she be treated as such and thrown out of the US. trump makes me want to puke. If some common person called him a jerk in public he’d try to sue him too. These are what are called slap suites by trump and corporations and they are unconstitutional.

  6. dahszil says:

    i heard the lard ass trump complain about paying tax lawyers a million a year. right so he can avoid paying taxes. oh poor mother fucking trump billionaire has to pay millions for tax avoidance. booh ho, i and most americans don’t feel your pain you mother fucking egotistical tyrant.

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