Trump loses lat­est bid to de­rail univer­sity fraud suit

Baltimore Sun - - ELECTION 2016 - By Erik Lar­son

Don­ald Trump and his now- de­funct real es­tate univer­sity lost another le­gal at­tempt to block for­mer stu­dents from su­ing as a group in a Cal­i­for­nia case ac­cus­ing the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee of fraud.

Trump Univer­sity is ac­cused of cheat­ing stu­dents by per­suad­ing them to pay tens of thou­sands of dol­lars for real es­tate sem­i­nars that turned out to be “in­fomer- cials” for buy­ing more classes. The for­mer stu­dents also claim work­shops were led by in­struc­tors who hadn’t been “hand-picked” by Trump as promised.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Gon­zalo Curiel in San Diego on Mon­day re­jected Trump’s ar­gu­ment that one of the lead plain­tiffs in the case, Sonny Low, wasn’t con­cerned with whether Trump Univer­sity was an ac­cred­ited in­sti­tu­tion. One of the key claims in the suit is that the stu­dents had re­lied on their be­lief that the school was ac­cred­ited when they paid to at­tend.

The for­mer stu­dents from Cal­i­for­nia, Florida and New York seek com­pen­sa­tion un­der con­sumer-fraud and elder-abuse laws. The case has dogged Trump as he bat­tles Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton ahead of the Nov. 8 gen­eral elec­tion, while Curiel’s Mex­i­can her­itage ear­lier prompted Trump to say that neg­a­tive rul­ings in the case were ret­ri­bu­tion for his pledge to build a wall be- tween the U.S. and Mex­ico.

Curiel has sched­uled a trial in the case Nov. 28.

Curiel said Trump’s lawyers were re­ly­ing on a “se­lec­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion” of Low’s de­po­si­tion, in which the for­mer stu­dent said ac­cred­i­ta­tion “was not even a con­sid­er­a­tion for me. I went there be­cause it was Trump Univer­sity, that he cre­ated.”

The judge pointed to other por­tions of the de­po­si­tion that sug­gested the for­mer stu­dent be­lieved the univer­sity was le­git­i­mate due to its as­so­ci­a­tion with Trump, re­gard­less of whether it was ac­cred­ited.

“Be­sides be­ing a multi­bil­lion­aire in real es­tate, he set up Trump Univer­sity, which I would pre­sume that he took all the steps nec­es­sary to set up a proper in­sti­tu­tion that he could call a univer­sity, with his name next to it,” Low said in the de­po­si­tion.

Trump’s lawyers have ar­gued that sales pitches tout­ing “se­crets” and “hand- picked in­struc­tors” are “puffery” com­mon to ad­ver­tis­ing, and that they can’t be used to ar­gue there was fraud. Trump also be­lieved the stu­dents were re­ceiv­ing a high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, the de­fense has said, while ar­gu­ing there was no in­tent to de­fraud any­one.

Trump is also ask­ing Curiel to undo class-ac­tion sta­tus in a sec­ond Trump Univer­sity class ac­tion in San Diego in which the can­di­date is ac­cused of rack­e­teer­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.