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Donald Trump sues Univision for dropping Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants

Donald Trump sues Univision for dropping the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants

Donald Trump made good on his promise to sue Spanish-language broadcaster Univision over its decision to scrap plans to air the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.

In a suit filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court, Trump said Univision breached its contract with the Miss Universe pageant, of which he owns 49%, and called the act a politically motivated attempt to suppress the real estate mogul's freedom of speech.

Trump is asking for $500 million in damages from Univision.

Univision canceled its plans to air the pageants and its five-year contract with Miss Universe after Trump made highly derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants in the June 16 remarks that kicked off his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

The lawsuit notes that Univision is a privately held company whose principal owner, Haim Saban, is a supporter and fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination. It goes on to say that "little else can explain" why Univision would abandon its contractual obligation to air the pageants.

The Miss USA pageant is scheduled to take place in Baton Rouge, La., on July 12.

It also says Univision pressured NBC into severing its business ties with Trump, relationships that include a partnership in the Miss Universe and the Miss USA pageants.

Univision said it ended its ties with Trump because his remarks were insulting to Mexican immigrants.

In lambasting U.S. immigration policy in his campaign speech, Trump said Mexicans immigrants "are bringing drugs. They're bringing crimes. They're rapists."

Trump said in his suit that shortly after he made the remarks, an unnamed Univision official called him to say him that the network had ended its relationship with Miss Universe and also dropped plans to air his Miss USA pageant because it was being "inundated with calls" and would no longer be able to sell ads for the broadcasts.

In a broad statement, Univision disputed Trump's account.

“We just reviewed Mr. Trump’s complaint for the first time, and it is both factually false and legally ridiculous," the network said. "We will not only vigorously defend the case, but will continue to fight against Mr. Trump’s ongoing efforts to run away from the derogatory comments he made on June 16th about Mexican immigrants. Our decision to end our business relationship with Mr. Trump was influenced solely by our responsibility to speak up for the community we serve.”

On Monday, NBC announced it was cutting all business ties with Trump due to his comments. The network said it will end its partnerships in the pageants, which have been in place since 2002, and will not return him to his role in the hit reality TV series "Celebrity Apprentice."

Trump said he will also take legal action against NBC, but has yet to file a suit.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal contributed to this report.

Twitter: @stevebattaglio

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

4:55 p.m.: This article was updated to note that Univision, in addition to the Miss Universe pageant, had also dropped plans to air the Miss USA pageant, and that Univision had a five-year contract with the Miss Universe pageant.

The first version of this article was published at 4:07 p.m.

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