From Scottish links to CNN: A brief history of Donald Trump in court

Donald Trump on his Aberdeenshire golf course
Donald Trump on his Aberdeenshire golf course

Donald Trump is never far from the headlines and he’s once again in the spotlight after launching a $475m lawsuit against CNN for alleged defamation.

The former President’s lawyers have accused the cable news station of smearing their client “with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of ‘racist,’ ‘Russian lackey,’ ‘insurrectionist,’ and ultimately ‘Hitler’.”

The filing lists several cases in which the network appeared to compare Trump to the leader of Germany’s genocidal third reich.

The businessman, a potential candidate for the Republican Party in 2024, is no stranger to an aggressive lawsuit.

According to USA Today, heading into the 2016 election, which he won, Trump had been involved in around 3,500 legal cases – with 1,900 as the plaintiff.

Indeed, one of the more famous cases involved the former Apprentice host attempting to sue the government of Scotland.

In 2011 a planning application was made to build the Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm, which would be visible from the Trump International Golf Links, Scotland.

Donald Trump at his Turnberry golf course in Ayrshire (Iain MacNicol/Getty Images)

Trump objected furiously, and when Holyrood ultimately granted planning consent in March 2013 he went on the offensive, declaring he would spend “whatever monies necessary” to stop the wind farm going ahead.

He launched a legal claim disputing the right of the Scottish Government to grant consent under the Electricity Act 1989.

A hearing began at the Court of Session in November that year but was thrown out in February 2014. An appeal to the UK Supreme Court was unanimously dismissed.

Here are five more times Trump took it to the courts.

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Donald Trump & the USFL vs the NFL

In the mid-1980s Trump was the majority owner of United States Football League team the New Jersey Generals.

Having initially played in the NFL off-season, in 1984 the USFL – at Trump’s urging – moved to compete directly with America’s favourite sports league.

The future White House incumbent and several of his fellow owners sought to force a merger with the NFL, and to that end filed an antitrust lawsuit against the more established league, alleging it held a monopoly over broadcast rights and, in some cases stadiums, for professional football.

The USFL technically won its case, as jurors determined that the NFL did hold an illegal monopoly. However, they further concluded that the management of the smaller league had been more to blame for its problems, and that the National Football League had not sought to force them off of television.

Trump’s own braggadocious testimony didn’t help with the jury, who ultimately concluded that moving their schedule to compete with the NFL had lost them several major television markets.

The league was awarded $1 (tripled due to antitrust laws) and immediately folded with $160m of debts.

Donald Trump vs Bill Maher

AP/Mary Altaffer

In 2011, Trump had offered a $5m donation to charity if Barack Obama would release his college and passport records, as part of the discredited ‘Birtherism’ conspiracy theory.

In response talk show host Bill Maher offered $5m to the Apprentice host if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan, stating that the ape’s fur was the only thing in nature that matched the shade of the mogul’s hair.

Trump said he had provided documentation to Maher in 2013 and tried to have the comedian pay up, but quietly withdrew his suit in April of that year.

Trump Organization vs the Fair Housing Act

Scott Olson/Getty Images

In 1972, the US Justice Department accused Trump, his father and their company of violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Black ‘testers’ were sent to enquire about renting apartments and, according to the department, told there were no vacancies, while white testers were would then be offered an apartment in the same building.

Trump counter-sued for $100m, but a federal judge threw it out and described it as "a waste of time and paper".

The original issue was settled out of court.

Donald Trump vs the city of Stuttgart

In the early 2000s, Trump sought to build a huge high-rise building, at least 200m tall, in the city of Berlin – that was until city officials pointed out that construction regulations meant buildings could not exceed 150m.

The real estate tycoon instead switched his focus to Stuttgart, which was willing to offer him property in the Pragsattel area of the city.

A construction project worth €250m was agreed upon which would have seen a 220m tower with a glass façade added to the Stuttgart skyline by 2004.

However, city planners failed to receive Trump’s finance plan and began to have doubts over the project. Facing being left with an unfinished building they pulled the plug.

A furious Trump sued for compensation, initially won, but saw the verdict overturned on appeal.

Donald Trump vs Deutsche Bank

Construction of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago was also hit with legal trouble, some of which centred around a $640m loan the future Commander-in-Chief had taken out with Deutsche Bank.

He had personally guaranteed $40m of that loan and when he tried to extend it the financial institution sought to call it in.

Trump counter-sued, demanding an extension on a repayment of more than $330m and damages of $3bn for alleged use of predatory lending and damage to his reputation.

In March 2009, both parties agreed to suspend litigation and resolve the disagreement amicably in an effort to help the project to succeed, with the loan ultimately extended.