Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP Wins Ninth Circuit Appeal for Trump University Students

February 6, 2018

San Diego – On February 6, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit commended Robbins Geller’s “admirable” work on behalf of former Trump University students and affirmed a settlement that will enable victims to recover as much as 90% of their “tuition.”  In a unanimous decision, the court dismissed the lone objection to the $25 million settlement, which will reimburse thousands of consumers, including senior citizens, who accessed retirement funds and maxed out credit cards to enroll in Trump University.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen observed that the settlement provided “terms highly favorable to class members [who] would receive between 80 to 90 percent of what they paid for Trump University programs.”  Turning to the objection, the court stated: “This appeal involves a lone objector, Sherri Simpson, who seeks to opt out of the class and bring her claims in a separate lawsuit, which would derail the settlement.”  Judge Nguyen recognized that Simpson had received a court-approved notice of her right to exclude herself from the class and chose not to do so by the deadline.  As to the objector’s claim that she should have a second opportunity to opt out at the settlement stage, or alternatively, that due process requires a second chance, the court held: “Neither argument is correct.”

Last March, District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel approved the settlement and hailed it as “extraordinary” and “all the more exceptional when viewed in light of the risk” of continued litigation.  In approving the extraordinary settlement, the court commended Robbins Geller for prosecuting the case on a pro bono basis: “Class Counsel’s exceptional decision to provide nearly seven years of legal services to Class Members on a pro bono basis evidences not only a lack of collusion, but also that Class Counsel are in fact representing the best interests of Plaintiffs and the Class Members in this Settlement.  Instead of seeking compensation for fees and costs that they would otherwise be entitled to, Class Counsel have acted to allow maximum recovery to Plaintiffs and Class Members.  Indeed, that Eligible Class Members may receive recovery of 90% or greater is a testament to Class Counsel’s representation and dedication to act in their clients’ best interest.”

The Robbins Geller trial team welcomed the confirmation of their hard work.  “Justice doesn't always prevail, but when it does, it really propels the next pursuit,” explained Jason A. Forge.

Robbins Geller partner Rachel L. Jensen, who has been litigating the case since its filing in 2010, stated:  “With precious days slipping away for so many elderly Trump University students, the Ninth Circuit’s decision provides a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for those who have struggled to pay off their debt for a decade.”

Robbins Geller attorneys Jason A. Forge, Rachel L. Jensen, Steven F. Hubacheck, and Daniel J. Pfefferbaum obtained this result on behalf of plaintiffs.

Simpson v. Trump University, LLC, No. 17-55635 (9th Cir. Feb. 6, 2018).

            Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP
            Jason A. Forge, 800-449-4900


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