The seven-year legal battle over President Donald Trump's real estate education venture known as Trump University has ended with a federal judge approving a $25 million settlement for the plaintiffs. Trump University students had filed a class-action lawsuit claiming they were misled by failed promises of teaching "success in real estate." About 3,730 students who took part in the program could potentially get at least 90 percent of their money back under the settlement.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel called the settlement an "extraordinary amount" for customers to recover.
The lawsuit alleged that Trump University provided seminars that were more like infomercials and pressured students, who said they paid thousands of dollars in tuition, to spend more on its program. Some Trump University instructors likened course materials to sales pitches using a technique called "the roller coaster of emotions" to persuade students to pay for courses costing up to $35,000 for the Gold Elite program.
Trump had faced two lawsuits in California and one in New York, which had been brought by the state's attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman. The settlement "will provide relief—and hopefully much-needed closure—to the victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university," Schneiderman said in a statement.
Trump and his lawyers deny any wrongdoing and did not admit any fault in the settlement. During his 2016 presidential bid, Trump had pointed to positive reviews of the program and vowed to reopen the university after the lawsuit was settled. But following the November election, Trump said he didn't have time for a trial. He continues to assert that he would have prevailed if the case had gone to trial.
Source: “Trump University Suit Settlement Approved by Judge,” The New York Times (March 31, 2017) and “Trump Paying $25M After Judge Approves Trump University Deal,” The Associated Press (March 31, 2017)