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
March 1, 2016 – Washington Post, “GOP super PAC’s ad portrays Donald Trump as a predatory huckster”
February 27, 2016 – CNN, “Trump University fraud case becomes campaign issue at GOP debate”
February 27, 2016 – Washington Post, “Donald Trump’s misleading claim that he’s ‘won most of’ lawsuits over Trump University”
February 26, 2016 – National Review, “Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam”
February 26, 2016 – San Diego Union Tribune, “Debate brings Trump’s legal woes to forefront”
May 12, 2011 – New York Times, “Buying a Trump Property, or So They Thought“
May 7, 2011 – Forbes, “Trump University’s Unhappy Students.”
May 6, 2011 – The Huffington Post, “Trump’s ‘University’ Accused of Scamming Customers.”
May 5, 2011 – San Francisco Chronicle, “Trump’s Real Estate Courses Didn’t Deliver, Lawsuit Says.”
April 26, 2011 – The Trump University lawsuit was featured on NPR’s “These Days” with Alison St. John and KPBS Legal Analyst Dan Eaton.
April 19, 2011 – NBC Nightly News airs a story on Donald Trump, mentioning Trump University.