Trump settles Trump University lawsuits for $25M US
Suits alleged that Trump University failed to deliver on promise to teach success in real estate
President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to a $25 million US settlement to resolve three lawsuits over Trump University, his former school for real estate investors.
The deal announced Friday by New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman would settle a lawsuit he filed three years ago, plus two class-action lawsuits in California filed on behalf of former Trump University students.
The suits allege that Trump University failed to deliver on its promise to teach success in real estate through programs that cost up to $35,000 US. They say the program misled students by calling itself a university when it wasn't an accredited school and by saying that Trump "hand-picked" instructors.
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Messages left with several of Trump's attorneys and a spokeswoman were not returned Friday.
Trump has strongly denied the allegations and said during the campaign that he wouldn't settle. He told supporters at a May rally that he would come to San Diego to testify after winning the presidency.
No acknowledgement of wrongdoing
"I could have settled this case numerous times, but I don't want to settle cases when we're right. I don't believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as a settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler," Trump said at the time.
The deal does not require Trump to acknowledge wrongdoing.
Schneiderman said the $25 million US to be paid by Trump or one of his business entities includes restitution for victims and $1 million US in penalties to the state.
"Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phoney university. Today, that all changes," Schneiderman said in a statement. He called the settlement "a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university."
A federal judge in San Diego cancelled a civil fraud trial involving the now-defunct university after the settlement was announced. Judge Gonzalo Curiel confirmed Friday that a deal has been reached in all three cases. He said the agreement is subject to his approval.
Trump's attorneys said in a court filing last week that preparations for the White House were "critical and all-consuming." Six months ago, when they unsuccessfully sought a delay until after Inauguration Day, lead attorney Daniel Petrocelli said the period between the election and swearing-in is extremely hectic for a president-elect but that it was preferable to a trial during the campaign.
"The task is momentous, exceedingly complex, and requires careful co-ordination involving the respective staffs and teams of both President (Barack) Obama and President-Elect Trump," Trump's attorneys wrote. "In fewer than three months, the President-Elect must be prepared to manage 15 executive departments, more than 100 federal agencies, 2 million civilian employees, and a budget of almost $4 trillion."