TRENTON, N.J. – Donald Trump has filed a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the author and publisher of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald," claiming the book knowingly understated the celebrity businessman's wealth.
A lawyer for Trump filed a complaint in New Jersey Superior Court in Camden on Monday accusing Timothy O'Brien, a New York Times business reporter, of damaging the real estate magnate's reputation. Time Warner Book Group and Warner Books Inc., which published the 288-page book in October, are named as co-defendants.
The lawsuit takes issue with O'Brien's use of three unnamed sources who said Trump "was not remotely close to being a billionaire," and put his net worth between $150 million and $250 million. Trump's suit suggests his fortune is closer to $2.7 billion.
"The thrust of the book is that Trump is an unskilled and dissembling businessman," the complaint states. At an event promoting his book at a Manhattan store in November, the lawsuit says O'Brien called Trump a "train wreck" of a businessman and "the walking embodiment of financial pornography."
O'Brien on Tuesday referred questions to his publisher. Warner Books said in a statement that O'Brien's work speaks for itself.
"Mr. O'Brien welcomes the opportunity to meet with Mr. Trump personally at any time and in any forum to discuss the merits of 'TrumpNation,' a book in which Mr. Trump participated extensively and willingly," the statement said.
The suits seeks $2.5 billion in compensation and an additional $2.5 billion in punitive damages, alleging O'Brien and the publishers damaged Trump's reputation in print, during televised interviews and at book signings.
The complaint also points to reports in Forbes Magazine conservatively estimating Trump's net worth at $2.7 billion.
Although Trump lives in New York City, and owns three casinos in Atlantic City, and O'Brien lives in northern New Jersey, Trump's lawyers filed the suit in Camden County, known for both crime-plagued, economically depressed Camden and neighboring Cherry Hill, a posh suburban enclave for Philadelphia professionals.
"('TrumpNation') was available in a number of different places and a town library in Camden," Kasowitz said. "Mr. Trump has business operations throughout the state of New Jersey. We thought the citizens of Camden are entitled to know the truth about how wrong this book is."
Trump grew to prominence in the late 1970s as the real estate company started by his father scooped up properties in cash-strapped Manhattan and began building extravagant office and residential towers. His public persona has grown larger since the debut of his reality show "The Apprentice" two years ago. His casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, emerged from bankruptcy in May.