Almost 4,000 former students of Trump University who have submitted claims could get back almost all of their money after a judge approved a $25 million lawsuit against the institution, which accused it of engaging in “persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct.”
Students spent almost $1,500 for a year at the now-defunct school, which many believe ripped off students with useless courses and questionable promises of employment after graduation. The school closed in 2010 after the New York Department of Education pointed out it was operating without a license.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s 31-page ruling on 31 March 2017 addressed two class-action lawsuits covering 3,700 former Trump University students, as well as a civil suit filed by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The suits accused the university of fleecing them for thousands of dollars with promises that they would gain “real estate investment secrets” through access to instructors handpicked by Trump. A three-day seminar cost around $1,500, but “mentorship programs” cost as much as $35,000.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump said Judge Curiel would not be able to preside over the case fairly because of his Mexican heritage, but Trump ultimately agreed to the settlement shortly before he was elected in November.
In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said that the settlement “will provide relief – and hopefully much-needed closure” to the former students.
“Trump University’s victims waited years for compensation, while President Trump refused to settle and fought us every step of the way – until his stunning reversal last fall,” the statement read. “In particular, I am pleased that we were able to ensure that members of the class action settlement will receive an even higher settlement than originally anticipated.”
According to Trump, the instructors were “hand-picked” by him, but during a deposition he gave for the lawsuit, he couldn’t remember the name of a single one.