B for Beauty, Contracts, Defamation, Donald Trump

Donald Trump Teaches a Disgruntled Beauty Queen an ‘Expensive Lesson’ in Arbitration

Sheena Monnin

As a law blog, we write about beauty queens far more than you’d expect, but that’s only because so many of them have gone to law school (DaNae Couch, Texas Tech law student recently crowned as Miss Texas; Adrielle Churchill, Arkansas law student crowned as Miss Arkansas in 2010), enrolled in LL.M. programs (Vasuki Sunkavalli, crowned as Miss India in 2011), or gotten themselves into some serious legal hot water (like Kumari Fulbright, Arizona law student and convicted felon).

Today, we bring you the story of Sheena Monnin, the former holder of the Miss Pennsylvania title. Monnin never went to law school, but she recently had the (dis)pleasure of being schooled in the law by none other than Donald Trump after making some scandalous remarks about the Miss USA pageant on her Facebook page (e.g., that the competition was “fraudulent” and “trashy”). Monnin’s no Miss Congeniality, that’s for sure.

As can be expected, this Janice Dickinson look-alike knew that she wasn’t going to have a very merry Christmas when she found out that she owed The Donald $5 million….

You see, when Monnin entered the Miss USA 2012 competition, she signed an entry form that barred her from harming the pageant’s reputation until the day after Miss USA 2012 had been selected. Apparently reading comprehension wasn’t one of Monnin’s talents, because she decided to post a rant on Facebook, blasting the pageant as “fraudulent,” “lacking in morals,” “inconsistent,” and “in many ways trashy,” on the very eve that the winner was crowned. Sigh. We guess you can have beauty and brains, but not both.

Trump was less than pleased with Monnin’s antics, especially Monnin’s allegations that the competition was “f-ing rigged,” so he did what any bored billionaire would do — he decided to sue a virtually judgment proof woman, and as the owner of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO), he filed an arbitration action in New York.

Earlier this week, Page Six of the New York Post announced that the arbitrator in the case, retired U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz, ruled that Monnin had defamed MUO, stating that the former beauty queen’s comments “were false,” and “showed a reckless disregard [for the truth].” Oh, and Judge Katz awarded MUO $5 million in damages. Here are some more details from Courthouse News Service:

The arbitrator concluded that Monnin’s statements were false and malicious, because Monnin lacked evidence and had made no attempt to verify her allegations.

“Monnin claimed the pageant was rigged within minutes of being passed over as one of the sixteen semifinalists, and before she had any purported factual basis for her allegation of rigging,” Judge Katz wrote.

“In addition, Monnin had a dual motivation for her malicious statements: (1) she was a disgruntled contestant who failed to make it past the preliminary competition; and (2) she strongly disagreed with the pageant’s decision to allow transgender contestants to compete, and had considered dropping out of the pageant even before the Miss USA competition had begun.”

When Trump found out the good news, he stroked a hand through his combover Davy Crockett cap and pondered whether he’d be able to fire someone who’d already quit. And then he said: “Going to arbitration was the appropriate action to take under the circumstances, and while I feel very badly for Sheena, she did the wrong thing. She was really nasty, and we had no choice. It is an expensive lesson for her.”

Sorry, Sheena, but it looks like wishing for world peace won’t save you now.

Sore Loser Must Pay $5 Million to Miss Universe Pageant, Judge Says [Courthouse News Service]
Beauty’s ugly loss to Trump [New York Post]

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