Dalvin Cook is quietly scoring victories in his off-field legal case
As free-agent running back Dalvin Cook continues his conventional search for a new team, he’s also continuing an unconventional approach to being sued by someone who has alleged that he engaged in off-field misconduct.
Cook has fought back, relentlessly and aggressively, against his accuser and her lawyers. And Cook, to date, is having plenty of success.
The legal odyssey began in November 2021, when Gracelyn Trimble sued Cook for injuries arising from (based on an amended complaint filed in July 2022) an alleged incident of assault, battery, and false imprisonment in November 2020.
Cook later filed a counterclaim against Trimble alleging invasion of privacy and defamation. And Cook has separately sued Trimble and her lawyers, Daniel Cragg and Anne N. St. Amant, and their firm, Eckland and Blando, LLP.
While both cases still remain pending and necessarily could lead to a variety of outcomes, Cook has scored some victories.
On May 1, 2023, the presiding judge in the case against Trimble and her lawyers found that Cook may amend his complaint to seek punitive damages. The judge found that Cook had made a sufficient “prima facie” (lawyers love their Latin) showing that the actions of the defendants demonstrated “deliberate disregard for the rights and safety of others by clear and convincing evidence.” Basically, the judge found that there’s enough proof to support a finding that punitive damages would be appropriate, if Cook prevails in the case and if the jury accepts the evidence as establishing deliberate disregard for the rights and safety of others.
The May 1 court order lists the evidence Cook has introduced, including Trimble’s medical records, text messages, and Instagram posts, an affidavit from a witness contradicting the notion that Cook was the abuser in the relationship with Trimble, video suggesting that Trimble was the aggressor on the dates in question, and an admission from Trimble via text message that she was indeed the aggressor on the dates in question. The judge concluded that Trimble and her lawyers had this information in their possession, and that Cook made a sufficient showing that Trimble and her lawyers “either had knowledge of facts or intentionally disregarded facts that created a high probability of injury to the rights of others by a clear and convincing standard.”
The judge also concluded that Cook made a sufficient showing that Trimble and her lawyers “deliberately proceeded to act with indifference to the high probability of injury,” by engaging in “efforts intended to generate unfounded negative publicity in order to pressure [Cook] to settle.”
Cook also secured in February 2023 an order compelling disclosure by the lawyers of information regarding the financial demand made to Cook for settlement of Trimble’s claim, communications among the lawyers regarding the effort to publicize Trimble’s case, and more. (This specific order is under appeal.)
Just last week, the judge handling the original lawsuit denied a motion for summary judgment on Cook’s invasion of privacy and defamation counterclaims against Trimble. It means that his claims against her will go to trial.
It’s an unusual approach by a defendant accused of wrongdoing, and Cook is experiencing a rare degree of success. While many steps remain before he prevails, he has to date managed to put Trimble and her lawyers on their heels regarding their decision (as the judge found in the May 1 order) to proceed with efforts to try to squeeze a settlement from Cook despite the possession of evidence that seriously undermined Trimble’s claims of wrongdoing by Cook.
Again, everything eventually will be sorted out by the court system. Based on the developments to date, Cook’s efforts to defend himself against claims that he believes to be false are showing signs of success.