Judge approves Trump paying $25 million dollar settlement over Trump University scam
A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement President Donald Trump agreed to late last year in a bid to head off a civil fraud trial over his Trump University real estate seminar program.
U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued a 31-page ruling Friday deeming the deal fair and overruling claims from some former Trump University students that they should get larger payments or be allowed to drop out altogether in a bid to force Trump into a trial.
Under the settlement, former Trump University students are expected to get 80 percent to 90 percent of what they paid — typically about $1,500 for a three-day seminar or $35,000 for an in-depth mentorship program.
Curiel called that result “extraordinary” when measured by the yardstick of other class actions that are often settled for pennies on the dollar.
“The extraordinary amount of recovery for Eligible Class Members — an estimated 80%, and potentially higher — is all the more exceptional when viewed in light of the risk of establishing liability at trial, the likelihood of appeal, the possibility of reversal, the complexity of conducting thousands of individual damages determinations, and the likely lengthy duration of further litigation. Moreover, none of the amount offered in settlement will inure to Class Counsel’s benefit, as Class Counsel do not seek any fees or costs,” Curiel wrote.
“Courts have approved settlements with recovery rates far lower than provided for in the instant Settlement,” the judge said. He also praised the class-action lawyers involved for boosting the value of the settlement by giving up their legal fees and waiving expenses incurred in pursuing the cases.
The federal lawsuits — one of which dates to 2010 — alleged that Trump and his aides made several misrepresentations about the program, including claiming that Trump hand-picked the instructors, that the program was akin to a traditional university and that it would share “secrets” Trump had not discussed elsewhere.