LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge sent porn star Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit against her former lawyer Keith Davidson and President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen back to state court.
In her June 6 complaint, Daniels claimed that Davidson – who represented her in 2016 – colluded with attorney Michael Cohen to discredit her story of a 2006 affair with Trump in Lake Tahoe.
Daniels names both men as defendants on claims of breach of fiduciary duty and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty.
Cohen asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit, and for it to be transferred to federal court, arguing that Daniels made no connection between him and the state of California. In subsequent filings, Daniels called the motions “textbook” examples of legal gamesmanship.
Daniels argued in a June 22 filing that state court is the proper venue for her lawsuit since Davidson is a California resident.
In Thursday’s seven-page order, U.S. District Judge S. James Otero agreed.
Los Angeles Superior Court is “capable of resolving all of the objections” Cohen and Davidson have raised, including concerns about preserving Cohen’s rights against self-incrimination, Otero said.
Davidson’s attorney Paul Berra vowed to continue fighting Daniels’ lawsuit in state court.
“It’s unfortunate that judges and their staff have to deal with senseless cases like this,” Berra said in an interview. “Now that we’re back in state court, Davidson will look to dismiss it there.”
In previous court filings, defendants argued that Davidson was fraudulently joined in the case and represented a “clumsy ploy” by Daniels to continue to litigate against Cohen.
But Otero said that Daniels’ claims that Cohen aided and abetted the alleged breach of her contract with Davidson are “tangential and directly related” to the claims against her former attorney.
“If anything, the facts would support a claim that Mr. Cohen was fraudulently joined in the action, not that Mr. Davidson was himself fraudulently joined to the action,” Otero said.
Otero noted that his order focused on jurisdiction, and that he was not making any findings regarding Cohen’s allegations that Daniels used “oppressive litigation tactics.”
“More winning by Cohen and his attys,” Daniels’ current attorney, Michael Avenatti, said Friday on Twitter in response to the order. “So much winning!”
Avenatti did not respond to a request for further comment.
Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford, claims that Davidson and Cohen exchanged text messages to hash out a plan to get her to appear on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show to deny an In Touch magazine article that detailed the affair she says she had with Trump.
In her complaint, Daniels called Davidson a “puppet” for Cohen and Trump.
In a separate cross-complaint, Davidson accuses Cohen of invading his privacy by recording several phone calls between the two men.
Cohen is currently under criminal investigation in federal court in New York, after federal agents raided his office and hotel room seeking documents related to a payout to Daniels.