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Woman Seeks Right To Trial In Trump University Case

Donald Trump, left, listens as Michael Sexton introduces him at a news conference in New York where he announced the establishment of Trump University, May 23, 2005.
Associated Press
Donald Trump, left, listens as Michael Sexton introduces him at a news conference in New York where he announced the establishment of Trump University, May 23, 2005.
Woman Seeks Right To Trial In Trump University Case
Woman Seeks Right To Trial In Trump University Case GUEST:Bianca Bruno, reporter, Courthouse News Service

The Trump University lawsuit which ended in a settlement last year may not be resolved after all. One student who joined the class action suit charging fraud against Donald Trump's real estate school is asking to opt out of the $25 million settlement. Sherry Simpson petitioned the court in San Diego to reject the settlement unless it allows individual students to withdraw from it and file their own claims against President Trump. Joining me is beyond go -- Bianca Bruno . Welcome to the program. Thank you for having me. I will ask you for a quick reminder of why the students were suing Trump University in the first place. A class of 7000 students in California, New York, and Florida sued President Donald Trump in 2010 regarding their investment in his real estate school Trump University. They believe they would get insider secrets from him and instructors that he picked to help them cash and on the foreclosure crisis and flipping homes. They said that they did not get the mentor ship they were promised and it was basically the equivalent to that of an infomercial. No information about what they could find in their own from the Internet. They are trying to recover what they invested in that school. For 70 would not settle on the political uproar about his comments over the judge. How does that settlement breakdown for the parties to get refunded? He agreed to a settlement a couple weeks act -- after he was elected president November. It really was sort of at the 11th hour that they reached a settlement. The $25 million and 24 million went to the class brought by the New York Attorney General and the other went to the class in California. Those students were be able to recover at least half of what they invested and some invested thousands up to $35,000. So she was a Florida woman who filed an objection to the settlement yesterday. Yesterday was the deadline to do so it is to file claims with settlement administrators so they can cover their money -- recover the money once it was paid out. Served notice that when out about the case in 2015 ensure that there would be a second opportunity to opt out if a settlement was reached. Apparently that opportunity was not provided following the settlement in November. Now what could some plaintiffs mean. The reason she would opt out is to bring her own lawsuit. She lives in Florida so she could bring separate claims that the nationwide class could not under Florida law. It could render the settlement moot probably given the fact that they get a pretty big boost of recovery in at least half of what they paid. Obviously the judge will have to consider that when he rules on this objection. It could nullify the settlement if enough of the students wanted to opt out. It could if the judge finds that the settlement should be rejected because of the claims that Sherry Simpson is bringing in her objection. One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the class-action suit is quoted in the New York Times saying that the objection seems politically motivated and that the time had passed to opt out of the settlement. Is a clear why Simpson waited until yesterday to say she wanted to opt out? I am not sure that it is clear why she waited until then. The settlement was agreed to our announced in November. It was filed with the court and approved by the judge -- tentatively approved by him just before Christmas and in a couple weeks is the final hearing where he is supposed to formally approve the settlement. So the deadline is coming up the final approval hearing is in a couple weeks so she tolerated when she would have to file an objection. How likely is it that the judge would allow this kind of last-minute change. He will have to wait a benefit and the cost of the sort of change at the 11th hour. Obviously for a class of 7000 people up to that if they all filed claims which we may know how many people filed claims later this week since the deadline was yesterday. He will have to weigh the costs and benefits they can recover half of what they paid for some that will be thousands of dollars. The big issue at the heart of the case and leading up to trial last year that many of the plaintiffs are senior citizens and there was a financial elder abuse claim -- they want to recover their funds as quickly as possible. If the judge does find that there should be another opt out. That will just delay people from getting the money back. When should we expect a decision? The attorney will argue but or the judge on March 30. That's the deadline where he will decide if the settlement is in fact fair and he will find out then what he wants to do if he thinks there needs to be another opportunity for folks to doubt. If indeed this is not over like we thought it was. I've been speaking with a reporter from the courthouse news. Thank you.

A Florida woman asked Monday to be excluded from a proposed settlement with President Donald Trump over fraud allegations at his now-defunct Trump University, setting the stage for a possible trial if a federal judge agrees.

Attorneys for Sherri Simpson said in a court filing that lawyers for former students in class-action lawsuits promised in 2015 that they could ask to be excluded from any future settlement. A settlement announced less than two weeks after Trump's election allows class members to object to the terms, but they can no longer drop out, preventing them from suing on the own.

Monday was the last day for former students to object to the $25 million settlement, which U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel will consider for final approval at a hearing on March 30 in San Diego.


RELATED: Trump University Settlement Filed In Court

Curiel, a target of Trump's repeated criticism during the presidential campaign, granted preliminary approval to the agreement in December and has said he hoped it would be part of a healing process that the country sorely needed. It settles two class-action lawsuits before Curiel on behalf of about 7,000 former students and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The former students would get at least 50 percent of their money back, according to plaintiff attorneys, who waived their fees to allow for larger payouts.

Attorneys for Simpson, of Fort Lauderdale, said many may be satisfied with the payment and acknowledged it is high under standards for class-action lawsuits but that their client wasn't prepared to take it.

"What Ms. Simpson seeks is her day in court, at which she will press for the complete vindication of all her rights, including her full damages plus punitive damages and injunctive relief. Due process guarantees her the autonomy to pursue these goals," her attorneys said.


RELATED: Trump University Settles Lawsuits For $25M

According to the proposed settlement, former students had until Nov. 16, 2015, to opt out of a future settlement and cannot sue Trump on the same grounds. Thirteen people opted out, but not Simpson.

Jason Forge, an attorney for plaintiffs, said Monday that the former students had been repeatedly informed of the opt-out deadline. "Anyone who chose to give up their individual claim and remain in the class will be rewarded for doing so under the terms of what is (a) historically beneficial settlement," he said in an email.

The lawsuits allege that Trump University gave nationwide seminars that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring people to spend more and, in the end, failing to deliver on its promises. They contend that Trump misled students by calling the business a university and by saying that he had hand-picked the instructors.

After attending two seminars in Florida in 2010, Simpson enrolled in the "Gold Elite" mentorship program for $35,000.

Attorneys for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump admits no wrongdoing under the proposed settlement.