In a bid to examine the public record around Donald Trump’s career as a businessman, USA TODAY NETWORK journalists searched local, state and federal courts for lawsuits and other legal filings involving the candidate and each of the 500-plus companies he identified on his personal financial disclosure with the Federal Election Commission.
Journalists began with electronic court indexes, building a database of cases that appeared to involve Trump or one of his connected businesses, and then spent months reviewing individual dockets or case files to learn more about the circumstances around each case and, where possible, the outcome.
Trump’s business empire is extensive, complex and ongoing. It includes companies that he owns and other involvements that are arms-reach arrangements in which he licenses his name or brand to other companies’ buildings or products. The database only includes those branding and licensing cases where Trump or one of the businesses he controls was a named party. So, for instance, the analysis does not include a lawsuit against a developer building a property with Trump’s name emblazoned on the deal or its marketing materials unless the case itself named Trump or one of his companies as a plaintiff, defendant or otherwise involved party.
The search of court records for a business history as long as Trump’s is further complicated by the changing nature of how court records are maintained and the differences from state to state and even court to court. The USA TODAY NETWORK team found hundreds of cases where the only record of the court case was a docket listing, but the file on the case had been destroyed or moved to archives, leaving limited information about the nature of the action or its outcome.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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