TRUMP UNIVERSITY LAWSUIT
Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, LLP is court-appointed Co-Lead Class Counsel in two class action lawsuits brought on behalf of consumers duped into paying tens of thousands of dollars for Donald Trump’s real estate investing scheme called “Trump University.” On behalf of these consumers, plaintiffs claim Donald J. Trump and his so-called “university” violated federal and state laws by falsely advertising seminars and mentorships (“Live Events”) as teaching Trump’s “real-estate secrets” through his “hand-picked” “professors” at his “elite” university.
In reality, the instructors were high-pressure salespeople paid on a commission basis to up-sell consumers to even more expensive courses (including the “Gold Elite” course for $34,995), and these salesmen were never trained on Trump’s “real-estate secrets” much less taught them. In 2005, the New York State Education Department told Trump to stop using the word “university” in its title, because it was illegal to do so, but Trump continued to operate illegally until forced to change the name in 2010.
Trump asserts many students gave positive evaluations immediately after the seminar, but over 25% of students got refunds and many more sought (but were denied) refunds for the scam. Plaintiffs seek refunds for all “Live Event” students across the country who have not yet received full refunds, with additional penalties and/or fines for senior citizens in California and Florida, and treble damages in the Cohen RICO case.
Please visit http://www.trumpuniversitylitigation.com for the latest information on the case and links to important documents, including the Complaints in the Makaeff and Cohen cases, the Orders granting class certification, and Order granting in part and denying in part the motion to decertify the classes, as well as the Long Form Notice and Mailed Notice regarding these class actions.
TRUMP UNIVERSITY LAWSUIT UPDATES
On February 8, 2016, Plaintiff Tarla Makaeff filed with the court a Motion to withdraw as a class representative and named plaintiff. The matter is fully briefed and pending to be heard by the Court on March 11, 2016. Redacted copies of Plaintiff’s briefing can be found here:
- Opening Brief and Exhibits
- Reply Brief and Exhibits (including excerpts of Donald Trump’s deposition transcript)
On November 18, 2015, the Court issued an Order primarily denying Donald Trump and Trump University’s Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court dismissed plaintiffs’ claims for injunctive relief, but otherwise denied Defendants’ motion for summary judgment, holding that the case may proceed to trial on Plaintiffs’ claims for:
(1) Violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”),
(2) California’s False Advertising Law (“FAL”),
(3) California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”),
(4) Financial elder abuse under California law, Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code Section 15600
(5) Violation of New York’s consumer protection statute, Section 349 of NY’s General Bus. Law
(6) Violation of Florida’s consumer protection statute and elder abuse law, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (“FDUTPA”) and Misleading Advertising Law (“MAL”)
On September 21, 2015, Class Notice was mailed to potential class members throughout the country to advise of their rights and provide an opportunity to “opt out” or identify themselves as California or Florida senior citizen class members. Please see http://www.trumpuniversitylitigation.com for more information and important documents. You can also click on following to view the Mailed Notice, Long-Form Notice, and Postcard for Individuals Over 60.
On September 18, 2015, the Court issued an Order granting in part and denying in part the motion to decertify the classes.
On October 27, 2014, the Court in a RICO class action against Donald Trump issued an Order granting class certification of a nationwide class of all students who purchased live event seminars from Trump University from January 1, 2007 to the present. For more information regarding this Order, please visit our blog here.
On June 17, 2014, the Southern District Court issued an Order granting Plaintiff Tarla Makaeff’s Anti-SLAPP motion against Trump University, LLC (“Trump”), thereby dismissing Trump’s specious $1 million defamation counter-claim against Makaeff. While the victory came more than four years after Trump filed its counterclaim, Makaeff’s case resulted in an important reaffirmation of the applicability of the anti-SLAPP law in federal court. Because Makeaff’s statements arose from protected activity and Trump could not show a probability of prevailing on its defamation claim, the court granted Makaeff’s anti-SLAPP motion. The California Anti-SLAPP Project, a leader in protecting First Amendment Rights, published a thorough article discussing Makaeff’s Anti-SLAPP motion, which can be found by visiting their website here.
On February 21, 2014, the Southern District Court issued an Order granting in part Plaintiffs’ Motion to Certify a class action against Trump University, LLC and Donald J. Trump. The Court certified a class on behalf of all persons who purchased a Trump University three-day live “Fulfillment” workshop and/or “Elite” program (“Live Events”) in California, New York and Florida. The Court appointed Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, LLP and Robbins Geller Rudman & Down, LLP as class counsel.
Also on February 21, 2014, the Southern District Court issued an Order denying Donald J. Trump’s motion to dismiss Plaintiff Art Cohen’s RICO complaint against Trump asserting violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO Statute”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c).
On November 27, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issued an Order denying Trump University’s petition for re-hearing en banc in regard to the Ninth Circuit’s Order reversing the dismissal of Plaintiff’s Anti-SLAPP motion.
On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff Art Cohen filed a RICO complaint against Donald Trump, asserting violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO Statute”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c).
On April 17, 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issued an Order reversing the district court’s denial of Plaintiff Tarla Makaeff’s Anti-SLAPP motion. The Court held that Trump University is considered a “limited public figure,” due to its extensive advertising campaign, and thus would have to prove that Makaeff acted with actual malice when she accused it of fraud, in order to prevail on its defamation claim.
On September 26, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Complaint.
On September 24, 2012, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Class Certification.
On October 12, 2010, the Southern District of California issued an Order upholding our first amended class action complaint against Trump University as to nearly all claims, including claims for breach of contract, false advertising, violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law (finding Plaintiffs stated a claim that Trump University’s conduct was unlawful, unfair and… fraudulent) and Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), with leave to amend as to the other claims.
A Second Amended Complaint was filed on December 16, 2010.
Trump University has also been named “Rogue of the Week” by the Willamette Week.
On October 12, 2010, the Southern District of California issued an Order upholding our first amended class action complaint against Trump University as to nearly all claims, including claims for breach of contract, false advertising, violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), with leave to amend as to the other claims.
We are happy to report that the Court on May 17, 2011 issued and Order Denying Donald Trump’s Motion to Dismiss and Order denying Trump University’s Motion to Dismiss, upholding Plaintiffs claims for against both Donald Trump and Trump University for Fraud, Misrepresentation, Violation of the Unfair Competition Law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act, and False Advertising.
TRUMP UNIVERSITY LAWSUIT NEWS
“Lawyers for Trump University plaintiffs reveal how they got the case and why they’re forgoing a fee” — ABA Journal, Dec. 20, 2016
“Trump Guarantees to Fund ‘Trump U’ Class Action Settlement Days Before He Takes Office” — National Law Journal, Dec. 20, 2016
“Trump University Settlement Filed With Judge” — Courthouse News Service, Dec. 20. 2016
‘A dog and pony show,’ lawyer in class-action suit says, recalling … The San Diego Union-Tribune–Dec 11, 2016
Would Trump Have Won Trump University Cases? Evidence Says He Faced Hard Fight – The New York Times Nov 23, 2016
Donald Trump agrees to $25-million settlement in lawsuits against … Los Angeles Times–Nov 18, 2016
$25M settlement reached in Trump University lawsuits – The San Diego Union-Tribune–Nov 18, 2016
Lead plaintiff in San Diego case reacts to Trump University settlement – CBS 8 San Diego–Nov 18, 2016
Trump settles class action suit for $25 million – LGBT Weekly–Nov 23, 2016
Donald Trump Agrees To Pay $25 Million To Settle Trump University Fraud Cases -The Huffington Post Nov 18, 2016
“GOP super PAC’s ad portrays Donald Trump as a predatory huckster” – Washington Post March 1, 2016
“Trump University fraud case becomes campaign issue at GOP debate” – CNN February 27, 2016
“Donald Trump’s misleading claim that he’s ‘won most of’ lawsuits over Trump University” – Washington Post February 27, 2016
“Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam” – National Review February 26, 2016
“Debate brings Trump’s legal woes to forefront” – The San Diego Union Tribune February 26, 2016
“Buying a Trump Property, or So They Thought“ – The New York Times May 12, 2011
“Trump University’s Unhappy Students.” – Forbes May 7, 2011
“Trump’s ‘University’ Accused of Scamming Customers.” – The Huffington Post May 6, 2011
“Trump’s Real Estate Courses Didn’t Deliver, Lawsuit Says.” – San Francisco Chronicle May 5, 2011
The Trump University lawsuit was featured on NPR’s “These Days” with Alison St. John and KPBS Legal Analyst Dan Eaton. – April 26, 2011
NBC Nightly News airs a story on Donald Trump, mentioning Trump University. – April 19, 2011