Nafissatou Diallo has sued Dominique Strauss Kahn, putting her graphic description of the alleged May 14 sexual assault in Room 2806 of Manhattan's Sofitel Hotel into a court filing. After weeks of reports that prosecutors had lost faith in their criminal case, a civil suit wasn't unexpected. Her lawyer, Ken Thompson, promised on July 28 to bring legal action "soon." But the timing is unusual because the Manhattan District Attorney's Office hasn't decided whether or not to proceed with its criminal case. Strauss-Kahn is due back in court on those charges on Aug. 23.
The suit filed Monday afternoon in Bronx civil court doesn't say what kind of resolution Diallo is seeking, nor mention any dollar amounts. But it does say Diallo suffered emotional and financial hardship. It also hints that other victims or further allegations may surface, and alleges an incriminating phone call from Strauss-Kahn to his wife. And it puts on the legal record the same details Thompson made public in his comments outside a July 1 hearing during which the Manhattan District Attorney's Office rescinded its demand that Strauss-Kahn be held on bail, pointing to evidence that Diallo might be an unreliable witness.
More Victims? One of the most notable parts of the document posted online by The Wall Street Journal is its indication that Diallo knows of other women who Strauss-Kahn allegedly assaulted.
Incriminating Call: The civil complaint describes Strauss-Kahn's departure from the hotel as fleeing "like a common criminal." It then refers to an incriminating call he allegedly made to his wife, Anne Sinclair, in Paris.
The minutes afterward: The district attorney's office has said Diallo changed her story about what happened after the alleged assault, originally claiming to have reported it immediately, but then admitting to cleaning another room afterward. But the suit says she didn't waver.
Financial Hardship: The lawsuit makes repeated references to an alleged act of forced oral sex between Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, describing in graphic detail her version of how the assault occurred. It also details her injuries, including bruising around her vagina, where she says Strauss-Kahn grabbed her, and something torn inside her shoulder. Thompson had already made these allegations informally, outside court on July 1. The suit says the alleged assault "has caused, and continues to cause, Ms. Diallo to suffer great emotional distress, humiliation, depression and physical pain and suffering." Later, in its causes of action, Diallo says she is still paying.
Why in the Bronx? Well, Diallo lives in the Bronx. But a Reuters story last week quoted some lawyers saying she's more likely to get a friendly jury there than in Manhtattan.
Bronx juries' reputation for generosity toward plaintiffs is so ingrained that it has been dubbed the "Bronx effect."
"The Bronx civil jury is the greatest tool of wealth redistribution since the Red Army," said Ron Kuby, a well-known New York defense lawyer. "As a purported socialist, DSK should applaud the venue."
The Bronx reputation may be overstated. A study in published in the 2002 Texas Law Review found no evidence Bronx juries deliver bigger awards than other New York counties.
Still, the notion persists that the Bronx gives otherwise powerless plaintiffs their best hope for a big payout.
Why Now? The New York Times story about the suit included a quote from Thompson on why he decided to file while the criminal case hangs in limbo.
Asked about the timing of the lawsuit, Mr. Thompson said, “Ms. Diallo has filed her lawsuit now because she wants to vindicate her rights and hold Dominique Strauss-Kahn accountable for the violent and deplorable acts that he committed against her.”