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New York hearing on Strauss-Kahn lawsuit set for March

Lawyers for former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique-Strauss-Kahn will appear before a New York judge in March to defend against a civil lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Nafissatou Diallo in August, claims Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex in May in a suite at the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

The March 15 hearing in state Supreme Court in the Bronx will likely address a motion from Strauss-Kahn's lawyers to throw out the lawsuit.

Criminal charges against the one-time French presidential hopeful were dismissed in September after Manhattan prosecutors uncovered inconsistencies in Diallo's account, but his legal troubles have persisted.

Strauss-Kahn was held and questioned for two days this week by French authorities in connection with allegations that a prostitution ring organized by his business acquaintances supplied prostitutes to clients of Lille's luxury Carlton Hotel. He could still face a formal investigation in the case.

In the civil case, Strauss-Kahn's attorneys have argued that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity by virtue of his post at the IMF, even after he resigned following his arrest.

Douglas Wigdor, one of Diallo's lawyers, called the immunity claim a "delay tactic" on Thursday and expressed confidence that the court would deny Strauss-Kahn's motion.

Strauss-Kahn's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Strauss-Kahn and Diallo are not required to appear in court for the hearing. Wigdor said he has not determined whether Diallo will attend.

Under U.S. law, the civil lawsuit remains viable even after the dismissal of the criminal charges. The burden of proof for civil liability is less stringent than for criminal conviction.

Strauss-Kahn has referred to the incident with Diallo as a "moral error" but insisted that the encounter was consensual.