President-elect Donald Trump won’t be testifying in the San Diego fraud suit against his real estate university, settling instead by agreeing to pay $25 million just weeks before the trial’s start date.
On Friday, lawyers told U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, [ the judge Trump said during the campaign could not be fair because the Indiana-born judge was “Mexican”] that they had reached a settlement with the 6,000-member class in two federal class actions.
The class members are expected to recover at least half, if not all, of what they spent on the Trump University real estate courses, which included claims that they would learn Trump’s real estate secrets.
Trump University students in California, New York and Florida sued Trump in 2010 contended he conned them with promises to learn insider real estate secrets from instructors he handpicked. Many students invested up to $35,000 for the classes but later learned that Trump had almost no involvement in the school.
A third case was filed in 2013 by New York’s attorney general over the use of the name Trump University, which New York argued was improper because it was not an accredited school.
The settlement will also cover the New York lawsuit. Of the $25 million, the ex-students nationwide will share in $21 million and the New York victims who were not part of the class will share $4 million.
Following Trump’s election win, his lawyers in San Diego have pushed Curiel to allow postponement of the case until after Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump was scheduled as a potential witness in the trial, set for Nov. 28. But Curiel repeatedly refused to back off the date, saying Trump would be no less busy after his inauguration than he is now, during the transition.
Curiel, who Trump famously called a “Donald Trump hater” during the campaign, had urged both sides to settle as the trial date approached.
Under terms of the deal, Trump does not acknowledge fault or liability for the class action claims.
Case: Low v. Trump University, 10-940, Cohen v. Trump, 13-2519, People of New York v. Trump University, 451463/2013,