Miss Pennsylvania Sued Over Allegations that Pageant Is Rigged

There is an interesting defamation lawsuit announced this week by the Miss Universe Organization. The organization which runs the Miss Universe and Miss USA contests (and is co-owned by Donald Trump) is suing Sheena Monnin, who resigned recently as Miss Pennsylvania. Monnin, 27, charged that the competition is rigged and that a fellow contestant saw a list of the top five selectees in the Miss USA pageant before they were actually selected on the program.

Trump responded in his signature over-the-top and vicious way. He attacked her as obviously not competitive and asked people just to look at her to confirm why she lost. He also claims that she was really upset because of the inclusion of transgender contestants this year.

However, Monnin is sticking by her allegations. She has reportedly been joined by a second contestant in the allegation. The second contestant says that Miss Florida Karina Brez knew the pageant’s top five finalists before the top 15 were even announced. She told reporters that she was very upset because she was not on the list.

Monnin has specifically called out Miss Colorado USA Marybel Gonzalez and Miss South Carolina USA Erika Powell as undeserving finalists. That could raise additional legal questions. Calling them undeserving is mere opinion and protected speech. However, to the extent that Monnin is suggesting that they are part of a fraud, it could be defamatory.

The lawsuit could raise some intriguing discovery and arguments. The allegation of fraud is generally treated as a per se category for defamation. There can also be defamation claims by individual contestant officials as defamation per quod — defamation that requires extrinsic evidence to prove its injurious nature. While not named, officials can claim that they are defamed by the allegation and that anyone who knows they are judges or officials this year would make the connection.

I understand why the pageant would see the need to sue. This type of allegation destroys the credibility of the competition to whatever degree it is credible. However, discovery could be problematic since counsel would be allowed to delve into how much judges discuss contestants and rank contestants before the show. As for Monnin, truth is a defense. If she could prove that she was told about this list, she could claim that she was merely disclosing a controversy among the contestants. This can be a grey line in defamation where repeating an allegation can become defamatory. It depends on how it is framed. If someone says that she was told that there was a list by another contestant, that is truth and would not seem actionable unless she knew the allegation to be false. Yet, if she is alleging fraud as a fact, it can be actionable. By the way, the second contestant quoted but not named could find herself outed in litigation and even added as a defendant. Trump and Company could seek to force the reporters to reveal the name of the contestant. Even without the parade of Miss USA contestants, this should make for some interesting depositions.

18 thoughts on “Miss Pennsylvania Sued Over Allegations that Pageant Is Rigged”

  1. If it were not so annoying to have to come behind this ‘Ralph Adamo’s comments with a scooper and a plastic bag,it might be funny to consider how deep and wildly inappropriate his hatred of anyone with an Arabicname is. He must be on someone’s payroll, as hate groups are as American as –well –DonaldTrump’s greed. But would he please identify himself in a way that makes it clear his comments are not by the Ralph Adamo wholives in New Orleans.

  2. I’m not buying Miss Pennsylvania’s story until I see her original long-form birth certificate.

  3. BarkinDog 1, June 14, 2012 at 10:07 am

    The defendant should take Trump’s depostion and inquire as to whether he is porking any of the female judges.

    Just the judges? How about the contestants? maybe the top 5?

  4. Donald Trump is a phony attention-seeking conman. Anyone with eyes knows that the “Miss Universe” “contest” is as phony as a three dollar bill. Just look at one of Trump’s previous “winners,” Rima Fakih. She was obviously preselected for political reasons, and logically it appears that funding from Islamic terrorsr groups was involved. Also, Trump wanted to promote Islam as something good, as an absurd sort of counterbalance to the nonstop Islamic terrorist activities taking place in reality.

    In fact, to keep this stupid sideshow going, I would suggest that the U.S. Congress hold hearings into the “Miss USA” “contest” to address both the allegations of fixing, and whatever “evidence” Trump can come up with to prove that the “contest” is not rigged. Think of it as a deja vue of the Quiz Show scandal of the 1950s. It would be a wonderful distraction from the truly serious problems facing the U.S.

  5. For reasons I cannot fathom, I find myself hoping this young woman is right, and that it can be proven without a doubt.

    But I am not happy with myself for caring.

  6. Gosh, maybe Karina heard it from Rick Scott who heard it directly from the Donald.

  7. The jokes fairly write themselves.

    As is often the case when “the Donald” is involved.

  8. Didn’t the pageant pay for plastic surgery for the anti-gay bimbo, er, contestant a couple of years back? If that’s not rigging, what is?

  9. If Trump is that upset, I smell a defensive rant. I hope the suit backfires on Trump and his so-called pageant. It would not surprise me if the pagenat is fixed.

  10. The defendant should take Trump’s depostion and inquire as to whether he is porking any of the female judges.

  11. A sleazy contest owned by Donald Trump, not surprising at all, from the man who has built his “brand” around garish, gaudiness. His greatest fraud though is that he is supposedly someone who understands business creativity.

  12. If Trump;s name is attached I am not surprised that controversy soon follows. He loves seeing his name in lights. (Maybe the sign of a fractured ego and self-esteem issues (?))

  13. Good luck to her. My guess is there is going to be a ton of highly paid talent making her life as miserable as they can for as long as they can. The only thing Trump is (I am speaking from a business perspective here obviously he is an over-stuffed, pompous windbag with an ego problem and terrible hair) is vicious. He will try to beat her down, particularly if this is true, and get her to surrender just to get some peace.

    Sadly, I don’t think the allegation, even if proven, will dampen the support for this cattle judging contest.

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