U.S. appeals court refuses to scuttle $25-million Trump University settlement

Donald Trump attends a 2005 news conference announcing the establishment of Trump University. A federal appeals court refused to block a $25-million settlement that Trump reached with plaintiffs.
(Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to derail a $25-million Trump University settlement to allow a former student to take the president to trial.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided unanimously that a district judge acted appropriately when he approved the settlement, reached days after Donald Trump was elected president.

The settlement stemmed from lawsuits charging the now-defunct real estate school with fraud. The 9th Circuit called the settlement “highly favorable” to former students.


The suits accused Trump University of falsely advertising that it would teach students Trump’s “secrets of success.”

Instead, the attendees said, they received three-day seminars in which they were aggressively urged to invest tens of thousands of dollars more for a mentorship program.

Sherri B. Simpson, a Florida lawyer and former Trump University attendee, wanted to drop out of the class action and pursue the president in another lawsuit.

But the 9th Circuit said she had missed a deadline for exiting the class.

The court said former students would have faced “significant hurdles had they proceeded to trial,” including the difficulty of prevailing before a jury in a case against the president.

“Weighed against this was the fairness of the settlement as a whole, which the [district] court estimated would provide class members with almost a full recovery,” wrote Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen, an Obama appointee.

Amber Eck, one of the lead lawyers in the lawsuits, said it was time to distribute the settlement money to the thousands of former students who sued.


“This has been an incredibly long, hard fight — and today’s ruling brings thousands of Americans one step closer to finally putting Trump University behind them,” Eck said.

Twitter: @mauradolan


11:40 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with Times staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 10:55 a.m.