'Apprentice' contestant's Trump defamation suit can proceed

Summer Zervos during a news conference announcing the filing of a lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump in Los Angeles, January 17, 2017.
Mike Blake | Reuters

A New York appeals court has ruled that President Donald Trump isn't immune from a defamation lawsuit filed by a former "Apprentice" contestant who accused him of unwanted kissing and groping.

A state Supreme Court Appellate Division panel issued its ruling Thursday in a case brought by Summer Zervos.

The decision lets Zervos' suit proceed and increases the prospect that Trump could have to sit for sworn questioning.

Zervos was among over a dozen women who emerged during Trump's 2016 campaign with allegations of sexual misconduct years earlier. He called the women liars.

Trump's lawyers have said the case shouldn't go forward while he's in office. They also say his comments were opinions and protected free speech. They say they plan to issue a response Thursday afternoon.

Zervos' lawyers say Trump's words were factual falsehoods that subjected her to threats.