by Barbara Nevins Taylor
Donald Trump didn’t say, “Sorry,” and he didn’t admit guilt. But student victims of the defunct Trump University will get $25 million dollars, as much as 90 percent of their money back, thanks to settlements approved by a San Diego, California judge.
This ends seven years of legal wrangling with about 3,730 former students who claimed that Trump University swindled them out of thousands of dollars with high pressure sales tactics and phony claims about what they would learn. Attorneys filed two class action lawsuits in San Diego, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman brought a civil lawsuit against the so-called university in New York. The judge’s ruling settles all of them.
Trump had refused to settle and tweeted about it.
But in November 2016, after he was elected president, he agreed to the $25 million deal.
Sherri Simpson, a former student from Florida, held things up with a challenge. Her attorney argued that the settlement would prevent her and others from suing President Trump individually. Simpson, also an attorney, said she wanted to sue Trump using racketeering charges and she wanted an apology.
Trump lawyers asked the judge to rule on her objection and close the case. In his final ruling, Judge Gonzolo P. Curiel wrote, “The court finds that the amount offered in settlement is fair, adequate and reasonable.”
Lawyers for the former students said they will not accept fees and praised the settlement for the amount of money individuals will receive. One lawyer said that Sonny Low, the named plaintiff in the lawsuit, still had $9,000 in credit card debt because of Trump University and the settlement will help him and others significantly.
Some students paid as much as $35,000 for the program, which some instructors told the court was fraudulent.
In New York, Attorney General Schneiderman praised the settlement, saying it “will provide relief — and hopefully much-needed closure — to the victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university. Trump University’s victims waited years for compensation, while President Trump refused to settle and fought us every step of the way — until his stunning reversal last fall.”
Schneiderman will distribute $4 million of the $25 million settlement.