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Judge allows woman who sued Trump University to withdraw from case

An Orange County woman who wanted to back out as a class representative in a long-running lawsuit against Donald Trump has gotten her wish.

Tarla Makaeff, who filed the lawsuit against Trump’s now-defunct Trump University six years ago, claimed the litigation had caused her to suffer severe stress and unwanted publicity, especially in light of the combative presidential race.

A month ago, a San Diego federal judge approved Makaeff’s request to leave as a class representative, giving her seven days to change her mind. She didn’t, and on Wednesday U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered her withdrawal to be final.

Three other plaintiffs still will participate in the case, including Sonny Low, 74, of Chula Vista. One of the conditions of Makaeff’s withdrawal was that Trump’s attorneys be able to depose Low again to help bolster their case. With that deposition complete, the judge agreed to dismiss Makaeff from her role.

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Makaeff still will be considered a class member in the lawsuit and potentially could collect damages should the lawsuit prevail.

The former students have claimed that Trump’s real estate program was misleading. They said they were upsold to pay $35,000 for “elite” memberships and were promised a year of mentoring by real estate experts handpicked by Trump.

Instead, the instructors were neither handpicked nor experts, and the university was not accredited as it was made out to be, the lawsuit says.

Trump and his lawyers have argued that there was nothing misleading about the program and that any failure to succeed in real estate by the students was a result of their own laziness, as well as a downturn in the market.

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The next major question in the case remains when it will go to trial. A date may be decided during the next court hearing May 6.

kristina.davis@sduniontribune.com

Davis writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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