A scheduled hearing in the federal court of Gonzalo P. Curiel today (March 11) may tell more about presidential contender Donald Trump than many of the charges being thrown around by his Republican opponents.
Tarla Makaeff is one of the persons suing Trump University — The Donald's for-profit school — in federal court. She says in a filing that she has been bullied and wants out of the case. Judge Curiel may decide today whether she can be released, or he may take it under submission and decide later. In February of 2014, Curiel certified Makaeff's class-action case in California, Florida, and New York.
During the course of the trial, Trump filed a SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation), a suit intended to intimidate a critic with the expense of defending a suit. Curiel sided with Makaeff and ordered Donald Trump to pay $800,000. He has not paid, she says in her filing.
Last month, Makaeff filed to get out of the case. "Makaeff lived with the stress of potential ruin," says her filing. "She still has great trepidation about retaliation."
"Makaeff has been put through the wringer in this case," says her filing. "While Makaeff was ultimately successful in defeating Trump's SLAPP suit, she has suffered tremendous stress and anxiety." She has lived with the daily fear that Trump would bankrupt her, and endured more than 15 hours of aggressive deposition questioning, according to her filing. "The thought of subjecting herself to more mistreatment and on a much more public stage at trial is just unbearable."
Allegedly, Trump called her a "horrible, horrible witness" at a recent campaign speech.
Makaeff, a yoga instructor, says further participation in the suit would negatively affect her "emotionally and physically" as a result of Trump's alleged vitriol. She says she is changing professions.
There is another primary plaintiff in her case who remains, so the case can continue.