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Defeated Trump Campaign’s Efforts to Enforce Arbitration

Outcome: $303,285.06

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Alva Johnson, Case No. 01-19-0003-0216

New York, New York. Alva Johnson prevailed in arbitration against former President Donald Trump’s campaign, winning attorneys’ fees and expenses from the campaign on Friday, March 11.  The campaign filed for arbitration under a provision in the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that Ms. Johnson entered as an employee of the Trump campaign.  The arbitrator dismissed it upon finding the NDA’s confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions “vague and unenforceable.” “[T]he Arbitrator believes the Denson II and Manigault-Newman cases to be correct in their analyses, and, after due consideration of these two well-reasoned decisions on the Constitutionality of the NDA provisions of the employment agreement . . . now reconsiders the Constitutionality of NDA in favor of [Ms. Johnson],” he explained in his order.

During a campaign stop on August 24, 2016, in a campaign recreational vehicle (RV) in front of other staffers, then-candidate Trump allegedly took Ms. Johnson’s hand, pulled her close, and attempted to kiss her on the mouth.  Ms. Johnson sued the campaign and Trump but was met with the suit’s dismissal and chose to drop it.  The Trump campaign proceeded to allege that Ms. Johnson violated the NDA, which led to arbitration.  As noted in the order on fees and costs, the campaign “sued on the arbitration provision in its unconstitutional NDA[] to silence Respondent [Alva] . . . . But even if that was not their motive, the enforcement of the NDA was an inappropriate choice because of its unconstitutionality.”

The arbitrator noted in the order that Ms. Johnson “defended herself, with the able assistance of her attorneys, and they did so, as the Arbitrator could determine, exceptionally competently and ethically.”  Against vitriolic statements from the Trump campaign, the arbitrator stated, “Counsel for Respondent engaged in a robust defense of their client, without any guarantee that they would prevail . . . . The firm of Tycko [& Zavareei] clearly appears to be a quality firm, with first-rate credentials. Their product filed in this Arbitration has been first-class . . . .”

“The Trump campaign has tried to use its unenforceable NDA to unlawfully silence its critics,” said Hassan Zavareei. “We are pleased that the arbitrator has held that these efforts cannot stand and ordered the campaign to compensate our client for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that the campaign forced her to incur.”

The case is Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Alva Johnson, Case No. 01-19-0003-0216.

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