Civil case of Prince Andrew: What’s next?

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine): Only a few weeks ago, there was talk that Prince Andrew’s team had come up with a slam-dunk winner that would put an end to the case. But for him, the outcome couldn’t have been more disastrous.

To use another American athletic metaphor, Wednesday’s result revealed that it had all been a bit of a Hail Mary: a last-ditch effort that was doomed for failure.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, in 46 pages, didn’t only dismiss the efforts to stop Virginia Giuffre’s claim of civil damages against Prince Andrew, but he also pointed out that many of the arguments were useless.

Virginia Giuffre’s case should be stopped, according to Prince Andrew’s lawyers, for the following reasons:

  • She was banned from suing anyone else after her 2009 settlement with Jeffrey Epstein.
  • Her claims were largely vague
  • His rights were being infringed upon as a defendant.

Let’s take a look at each one separately.

The Epstein Accords

Prince Andrew’s side has been claiming for months that the previously undisclosed settlement between Ms. Giuffre and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein  was an ace card.

She promised not to bring any future cases against other “potential defendants” as part of that arrangement.

As a result, Prince Andrew’s camp argued that he was a “potential defendant.”

But no one knows for sure since Judge Kaplan stated that he is prohibited by law from guessing on what Epstein and Ms. Giuffre intended when they signed the agreement.

He said that the term “potential defendants” could refer to anyone. The settlement did not establish that both parties wanted Prince Andrew to gain from it in a clear and unequivocal way.

The prince’s attorneys supplied the judge with precedents from prior cases, claiming that he had a right to benefit from the agreement as a third party affected by it.

Judge Kaplan, on the other hand, was unimpressed and declared that they had been “of no assistance.” That’s basically what a judge says when his time is being wasted.


Too vague allegations?

Ms Giuffre’s charges, according to the prince’s lawyers, do not constitute a breach of New York law.

Judge Kaplan, however, stated that at this point in the case, all Ms.Giuffre needs to establish is that her allegation was plausible.

Regardless of which part of her body the defendant is alleged to have touched, the allegation that [Ms. Giuffre] was forced to sit on (Prince Andrew’s) lap while he touched her is enough to make a battery claim under New York law,” Judge Kaplan decided.

“[Bodily] touch is offensive if it is improper in all circumstances, which is a reasonable conclusion from Ms.Giuffre’s charges.”

“Ms Giuffre’s allegation is neither incoherent, obscure, nor ambiguous,” he wrote. 

It alleges discrete incidents of sexual abuse in particular circumstances at three identifiable locations.

He further added that [Prince Andrew] naturally wants more information, he’ll be able to get it through pretrial discovery.  That’s a reference to the next stage of the case, which he would explain below

Judge Kaplan dismissed a claim that her charges were duplicated, saying they were sufficiently diverse and that it would be up to a jury to determine how they overlapped and what that meant for any potential damages.


What choices does the prince have?

He could try to overturn the decision, but that is far from certain. If it is allowed by the higher court, it will inevitably cause delays.

Ms Giuffre can petition for an automatic judgement in her favour if Prince Andrew fails to appeal and does not cooperate with the timetable and exchange of evidence as given by the judge.

So, if the appeal option fails, he has a straightforward choice: he can either participate, prepare to provide his side of the story and have it defended in court in some fashion, or he may settle.

Of course, Ms. Giuffre faces legal ramifications as well. It is up to her to prove her case. And certainly, the closer a matter gets to trial, the greater the financial dangers for a claimant, as the costs continue to rise.

David Boies, Her lawyer, claims that justice would entail the prince’s acknowledgment of his acts, but the prince has always denied the charges.

Now  the question is whether she will accept a cash offer from the prince’s team if such an offer is made.