Judge says he will rule later on Trump University case 

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel made the announcement during a hearing in San Diego. He did not say when he would make his decision.

Published: 31st March 2017 03:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st March 2017 03:22 AM   |  A+A-

US President Donald Trump (File | Reuters)

By Associated Press

SAN DIEGO: A judge said Thursday he will issue a ruling at a later time on whether to accept an agreement for President Donald Trump to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel made the announcement during a hearing in San Diego. He did not say when he would make his decision.

Curiel gave preliminary approval to the deal in December.

The agreement is intended to end nearly seven years of legal battles with customers who claimed they were misled by failed promises to teach success in real estate.

It would settle two class-action lawsuits and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Trump had vowed never to settle but said after the election that he didn't have time for a trial, even though he believed he would have prevailed. He acknowledged no wrongdoing.

Attorneys for the customers have said thousands of people would get at least 80 percent of their money back, based on the roughly 3,730 claims submitted.

When attorneys reached a deal 10 days after Trump's election, Curiel said he hoped it would be part of "a healing process that this country very sorely needs." A month later, he granted the preliminary approval.

But two customers have objected, and Curiel will also decide whether to allow one of them to opt out and sue the president individually.

Trump has paid $25 million into escrow to settle the cases.

The lawsuits allege that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver.

Sherri Simpson, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, attorney, said she and a partner paid $35,000 in 2010 to enroll in Trump University's "Gold Elite" program to be paired with a mentor who would teach them Trump's secret real estate investment strategies.

Simpson, who appeared in two anti-Trump campaign ads, said they got little for their money — the videos were 5 years old, the materials covered information that could be found free on the internet, and her mentor didn't return calls or emails.

"I would like an admission that he was wrong, an admission that, 'Oops, maybe I didn't handle it as well as I should have, I didn't set it up as well as I should have, that I didn't maintain it or oversee it as well as I should have,'" Simpson told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Attorneys for Trump and those suing him say the deadline to opt out was in November 2015 and Simpson missed her chance. Thirteen people opted out before that date, none of whom have shown a desire to sue the president.

Another customer, Harold Doe, objected to the settlement because he wants more money, according to court filings by attorneys for Trump and the plaintiffs.

Trump University dogged the Republican businessman throughout the campaign as rivals used Trump's depositions and extensive documents filed in the lawsuits to portray him as dishonest and deceitful.

Trump brought more attention by repeatedly assailing Curiel, insinuating that the Indiana-born judge's Mexican heritage exposed a bias.

The settlement was reached 10 days before a trial was set to begin, sparing Trump what would have been a major distraction. The trial would have been pinned on whether a jury believed Trump misled customers by calling the business a university when it wasn't an accredited school and by falsely advertising that he hand-picked instructors.

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