Lawyers for Prince Andrew argued in a New York court on Wednesday that the British king had yet to properly receive documents related to a lawsuit alleging sexual assault.
In a preliminary hearing in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Andrew B Brettler, representing the Duke of York, also alleged that Andrew could be protected from the trial by a “secret settlement agreement” which had already been sealed by a court.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre has filed a civil lawsuit against Andrew. She alleges that she was forced to have sex with the King when she was 17, which Andrew denies.
The hearing, which was conducted by telephone, mainly focused on whether Andrew was properly briefed on the case against him and what steps the court should take to ensure that the documents legal documents reach him.
David Boies, representing Giuffre, said the complaint was “delivered to the last known address of the defendant”. He added that the documents had also been sent “by Royal Mail”.
Brettler argued that the documents had not been properly served and raised the existence of a settlement agreement, which he said is relevant to Giuffre’s trial.
The lawyer demanded that the agreement be published by Giuffre’s lawyers, in order to determine “whether he effectively relieves the Duke of any responsibility, as we suspect, and whether he has other people in the same situation. than the prince ”.
“We believe this is an unfounded, unsustainable and potentially illegal legal action that the plaintiff has brought against the Duke,” Brettler said.
“There was a settlement agreement that the plaintiff entered into in a prior action which releases the Duke and others from any potential liability.”
Boies disputed this interpretation, telling the court: “This is just not a fair characterization of what happened.”
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said there was an ongoing request to unseal the deal.
Lawyers for Giuffre say the legal documents were handed over to a Metropolitan Police Officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s home in Windsor Great Park on August 27.
Andrew has repeatedly denied the allegations in the lawsuit brought by Giuffre, a longtime accuser of the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
When the lawsuit was filed last month, legal experts suggested it left Andrew no good option as he seeks to repair his image and return to public life. If he tries to ignore the lawsuit, he runs the risk that the court will find him in default and order him to pay damages. If he decides to fight, he risks facing years of unwelcome headlines as the case continues in court.
It was announced Monday morning that Andrew’s team had hired Brettler, who works at entertainment litigation law firm Lavely and Singer. Brettler has previously portrayed Bill Cosby and actor Armie Hammer, who has been charged with rape. Hammer denies the allegations.
Boies, Guiffre’s lawyer, had previously said in court documents that it was implausible that Andrew was not aware of the lawsuit. “Lawyers for Blackfords, who he has apparently asked to evade and challenge the service, have confirmed that Prince Andrew himself has already been briefed on this lawsuit and is assessing his chances of success,” Boies wrote.
Even if Blackfords had not confirmed as much, any further conclusion would be “implausible,” Boies wrote, given that “reputable media around the world have reported on the filing of the plaintiff’s complaint, and hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on this trial have been published.
The Duke is believed to be in Balmoral, the Queen’s Scottish estate, where he hosted a shooting night this weekend.
On August 26, a company investigator by the name of Cesar Sepulveda visited Windsor and attempted unsuccessfully to serve court documents at the Royal Lodge, Andrew’s home, after police were unable to locate a senior member of the prince’s staff, according to reports. The following day, the documents were reportedly left with the police on the spot.
A copy of the summons and complaint was also reportedly emailed to Andrew’s home royal office and his attorneys by email and FedEx, as well as to his home by first class mail. .
Kaplan ordered Boies to come up with alternative means to serve Andrew and rejected Bretter’s argument that Hague Convention procedures had to be “exhausted” before US procedures were applied. The next conference was scheduled for October 13.