(Bloomberg) -- Porn star Stormy Daniels’s effort to get out from a “hush agreement" over an alleged affair with U.S. President Donald Trump should be handled by a private arbitrator, according to the entity that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen set up to pay her in 2016.
Essential Consultants LLC on Monday filed a request to send the lawsuit to arbitration per the terms of the agreement with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. There was nothing unconscionable about the deal she made, in which she received $130,000 in exchange for her silence, according to the filing.
"There is no evidence that Clifford was forced to enter into the settlement agreement, had no meaningful choice to do so, or had no choice but to accede to the terms of the arbitration clause as drafted," according to the request to compel arbitration. "Clifford had the power to walk away, the power to negotiate the terms of the agreement, and only entered into the agreement after she unsuccessfully attempted to sell her story for $200,000."
Daniels sued on March 6 to nullify the confidentiality agreement she says she struck with Cohen in October 2016, before the presidential election, to keep quiet about the alleged affair. She argues the document is invalid because Trump didn’t sign it, even though she took the money Cohen offered.
The LLC set up by Cohen said in a court filing last month that Daniels may face as much as $20 million in damages for her violations of the agreement.
“We will vigorously oppose the just-filed motion by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen to have this case decided in a secret arbitration, in a private conference room, purposely hidden from the American public,” Michael J. Avenatti, a lawyer for Daniels, said in an email. “This is a democracy and this matter should be decided in an open court of law owned by the people.”
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