Robbins Geller obtains class certification and defeats motion to dismiss on behalf of Trump University students in two related cases in the Southern District of California
On February 21, 2014, the Honorable Gonzalo P. Curiel, United States District Judge, issued two important rulings in two related class action cases filed on behalf of “Trump University” students.
In Makaeff, et al. v. Trump University, LLC, et al., No. 10-cv-0940-GPC-WVG, Judge Curiel certified a class of all persons who purchased a Trump University live seminar or program, including a three-day “Fulfillment” workshop (“Fast Track to Foreclosure,” “Profit from Real Estate,” or “The Apprenticeship Program”) and/or “Elite” program (field mentorship and/or workshop) in California, Florida, and New York and have not received a full refund. The Court certified state unfair competition and false advertising claims in California, Florida, and New York, and elder abuse claims with additional penalties for Californians aged 65 or older and Floridians aged 60 or older. Judge Curiel found that defendants Trump University and Donald J. Trump made common misrepresentations to class members, including: (1) Trump University was an accredited university; (2) students would be taught by real estate experts, professors and mentors that were handpicked by Trump; and (3) students would receive one year of expert support and mentoring.
In the related case of Cohen v. Trump, No. 13-cv-2519-GPC-WVG, Judge Curiel denied defendant Donald J. Trump’s motion to dismiss a federal claim for Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”) brought on behalf of all persons who purchased a Trump University live seminar or program in the United States. The RICO claim alleges that Donald Trump used “Trump University” to deceive students. For example, Trump marketed “Trump University” after the New York State Education Department had expressly informed him that “Trump University” did not qualify as a “university” and had directed him to stop using the name. Likewise, Trump promised students not just a “university,” but one with which he was so integrally involved that students would be effectively learning from him through his handpicked instructors, even though he was only involved in marketing Trump University rather selecting its instructors or shaping its curriculum. Judge Curiel denied all four of Trump’s arguments to dismiss the case, and plaintiff intends to move for class certification, so that all former students can recover treble damages (i.e., triple their losses).
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