March 14 (UPI) -- A New York appellate court ruled Thursday that a defamation lawsuit filed by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos against President Donald Trump can proceed.
The ruling by the Appellate Division, First Department affirms a lower court's decision not to toss the suit.
Zervos said she filed the defamation suit because of Trump's public response to her accusation of sexual assault in 2007. She said he attacked, denigrated and lied about her during rallies and interviews.
Zervos said she would be willing to drop the suit if the Trump retracts what he said and admits to the assault.
Trump's attorneys have sought to have the case dismissed citing the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, which they said protects the president from being sued in state court while in office.
"The president is still a person, and he is not above the law, the appellate court said Thursday.
Like in the lower courts, the appellate court cited a 1997 Supreme Court decision regarding Paula Jones' lawsuit against former President Bill Clinton. In that case, the court held that Clinton did not have immunity in federal lawsuits over private acts.