Federal appeals court rules $25M Trump University settlement can go forward

Trump University was a for-profit entity.

— -- A federal appeals court today cleared the way for attendees of Trump University to get some of their money back

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from a lone objector who threatened to derail the $25 million settlement.

The objector, Sherri Simpson, said she was denied due process rights because the settlement gave her too few chances to opt out. Simpson, a Florida lawyer and former Trump University attendee, said she wanted to pursue legal action against the president in another lawsuit.

Simpson’s appeal was the final hurdle before attendees of the now-defunct real estate seminar known as Trump University could collect their money.

“Today's approval of the Trump University class action settlement by the Ninth Circuit means that victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university will soon receive the $25 million in relief they deserve," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had filed suit. "We are pleased that the final settlement we negotiated with our co-plaintiffs ensures that members of the class will receive an even higher settlement than anyone originally anticipated."

"For years, President Trump refused to compensate the victims of his sham university. His reversal in 2016—and the large-scale settlement that resulted—opened the door for student victims to finally obtain the restitution they deserve," Schneiderman said.

Trump University was a for-profit entity that offered courses in real estate and entrepreneurship and claimed to teach attendees Donald Trump's secrets to success in real estate. Plaintiffs said Trump University used false advertising to lure them to workshops at which they were sold expensive seminars.

“Instead of receiving the promised training, attendees were aggressively encouraged to invest tens of thousands of dollars more in a so-called mentorship program that included resources, real estate guidance, and a host of other benefits, none of which ever materialized,” according to the 9th Circuit decision.

Within weeks of Trump's election to the presidency, Trump University agreed to settle the claims for $21 million plus another $4 million for the New York Attorney General's office. The decision clears the way for thousands of Trump University participants to receive as much as 90 percent of what they paid for the courses.

A spokesperson for The Trump Organization said at the time of the settlement that it had "no doubt" that Trump University would have won the suit, but a "resolution of these matters" was necessary to allow Trump to focus on the needs of the nation. The company admitted to no wrongdoing in the settlement.

Had Simpson's objection succeeded in derailing the settlement, the appellate judges noted that plaintiffs "would have faced significant hurdles...prevailing in a jury trial against either the President Elect or the sitting president."