Federal Court judge Gonzalo Curiel has issued rulings in two cases against Donald Trump and his so-called Trump University, which are real-estate seminars of varying degrees of complexity.
Former students of the alleged school, who could have been charged $36,500 if they took the purported "Gold Elite" classes, have filed suits in Curiel's court, saying Trump made misrepresentations, such as that the university was accredited, students would be taught real estate by experts chosen by Trump, and students would receive a year of expert support.
In the final days of February, Curiel certified one case, Tarla Makaeff vs. Trump University, as a class-action in California, Florida, and New York. The plaintiffs had hoped it would get certified in all 50 states. Curiel also narrowed down the pursuable actions from 14 to 5.
In a second related case, Art Cohen vs. Donald J. Trump, Curiel denied Trump's motion to dismiss the case. Cohen is pursuing a racketeering case. Trump's lawyers argued that the claims made by the school are "mere puffery" that isn't actionable under racketeering statutes. But Curiel ruled that Trump University boasted in its advertising that Donald Trump was involved, and it was an "actual university." Trump's lawyers then argued that Trump University was just a brand like Fred Astaire's Dance Studio.
Curiel noted that Cohen's complaint "includes extensive allegations that Trump made repeated representations as to his participation with Trump University beyond lending his name to the institution." For example, ads featured Trump's signature with statements such as, "I can turn anyone into a successful real-estate investor, even you — Donald Trump." For this and other reasons, Trump's motion to dismiss Cohen's complaint was denied.
Separately, the New York Attorney General has brought a $40 million lawsuit against Trump University that is proceeding, although the judge threw out some portions of the compaint.