The proposed $25 million dollar Trump University legal settlement is falling apart on President Donald J. Trump after a victim has objected to the terms of the hastily negotiated settlement on the eve of trial.
Sherri Simpson asked permission from federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel to give victims a chance to opt-out of the settlement if they wish continue pursuing full repayment from the President for scamming them with his fraudulent real estate “school.”
A lawyer at one of Los Angeles’ top civil litigation firms says she’s got a viable legal argument, which may allow thousands of victims to pursue a civil court racketeering trial against President Trump for running a criminal enterprise. Instead of a 50-cents on the dollar settlement, victims would then be able to seek three dollars in damages for every dollar Donald Trump swindled.
When Sherri Simpson signed up for the seminars, she did not understand Donald Trump to be a mendacious huckster. She believed him. If she hadn’t, she would not have paid tens of thousands of dollars in a bid to improve her life. And yet, there were no hand-picked instructors. There was no mentoring. There were no materials at all that one couldn’t have just grabbed off the internet. It was pure flim-flam – a hoax, a scam.
There were “instructors” who cajoled their students to increase their credit card limits – ostensibly to improve their credit ratings, but really (and transparently) to enroll them in more, and increasingly expensive, Trump University programs.
Judge Curiel will hear Simpson’s objections on March 30th in a San Diego, California federal court.
Two weeks after the election, Donald Trump settled a pair of racketeering (civil claims of criminal business activity) and fraud lawsuits, on the eve of what was sure to be a high-profile trial. He also agreed to a million dollar fine to be paid to the state of New York for violating education laws, but Trump didn’t admit guilt to anyone in the agreement.
Sherri Simpson’s lawyers argue (complete document below) that a 2015 notice to the class of Trump University victims said they could “ask to be excluded from any settlement.” Her lawyers also claim that Trump’s victims had their rights to due process violated because the agreement includes an unenforceable provision saying that “the Parties agree that no new opportunity to opt out will be provided as part of this Settlement.”
Simpson’s legal team also says that the judge should interpret the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to say that the “decision to remain in the class is likely to be more carefully considered and is better informed when settlement terms are known.”
“A class member who did not opt out in 2015 and remained in the class likely did so with the expectation that the case would go to trial. Now that a settlement has been thrust on class members which they did not agree to based on political exigencies and conveniences, involving negotiations where they were not present,” says attorney Ben Meisalas of the Geragos & Geragos Law Firm, who reviewed the objection and litigates federal class action cases. Superlawyer Magazine calls him a ‘Rising Star’ and he has a very firm conclusion about the Trump University case, “The proposed settlement should be rejected.” He continued:
“These people weren’t even involved in the negotiations, which were done by class attorney and likely the class representative. Having a non-opt out clause in the agreement reeks of collusion and reflects a clear goal of protecting president trump at the expense of class members.
“They should not forfeit their fundamental right to a trial. A fraud is a fraud whether you are president or pauper, and victims deserve their day in court.”
If Sherri Simpson gets the judge to rule in her favor, then thousands of unsatisfied class litigants could potentially seek to take the sitting President back to trial. Donald Trump has Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband George to thank for his predicament after he won the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against former President Clinton.
Memorably, this is the court case which sent a terrified Donald Trump on a racist, anti-Mexican rampage early last summer when it was set for trial and he publicly insulted the Indiana-born federal judge’s familial background. The judge issued a summary judgment ruling last August which gave then Republican nominee Trump heartburn.
It really looked like Donald Trump was going to get away with fleecing his TrumpU victims out of their money, then cheat them out of justice a second time with a cut-rate settlement.
Now, it’s starting to look like President Donald J. Trump may face a special prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and have to prepare for a civil racketeering trial about Trump University in San Diego, possibly at the same time.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition