Trump Attorneys Open to Settling Trump University Case

President-elect faces three lawsuits related to for-profit real estate program.

ByABC News
November 10, 2016, 12:36 PM

— -- As President-elect Donald Trump met with top officials in Washington, D.C. today, including President Barack Obama, his attorneys went to a California courthouse where one told a judge he would be willing to work on settling a civil fraud case involving Trump University.

At the urging of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, attorney Daniel Petrocelli, representing Trump University, said he is "all ears" when it comes to another judge, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, working with both sides for a resolution, according to The Associated Press.

Petrocelli reportedly said that it didn't appear possible that Trump, who's in the midst of his transition to the White House, would be able to attend the trial, as previously expected.

Curiel said he would allow Trump to testify via videoconference should the trial proceed, but said, "It would be wise for the plaintiffs, for the defendants, to look closely at trying to resolve this case given all else that's involved," Reuters reported.

The class-action suit, one of three concerning the now-defunct for-profit real estate training program, alleges that Trump University was little more than a moneymaking scheme in which students were "lured" in by Trump's name and then, "instead of a complete real estate education, students merely received an 'infomercial' pushing additional seminars or workshops they were told they would need to take to succeed." Students were allegedly "up-sold" and eventually encouraged to spend more than $35,000 on classes and materials in exchange for "guaranteed success."

"Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money," former Trump University sales manager Ronald Schnackenberg said in a deposition for another lawsuit against Trump, also filed in California. A third suit targeting the program was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in New York in August 2013.

In court papers Trump has denied the allegations and said he will win the cases. Alan Garten, an attorney for the Trump Organization, previously told ABC News that he was "very confident that we provided a valuable education to students and that those who participated got their money's worth."

Today's hearing in California began after Curiel filed a "tentative order," ruling on a number of motions from the plaintiffs and the defense regarding what should and should not be used by the opposing side in court.

One battle that Trump's defense appears to have lost was to keep statements made by or about Trump during his presidential campaign out of the courtroom. The attorneys had argued that the statements, including everything from Trump's tweets to "personal conduct accusations," could be "highly prejudicial" to Trump and Trump University.

Curiel said he was denying the defense's blanket motion, but would hear specific objections when the trial started.

Both California cases are overseen by Curiel, who Trump said during his presidential campaign has been "totally biased." In June, Trump told The Wall Street Journal that Curiel's Mexican heritage meant he had an "absolute conflict" in the case because of Trump's aggressive stance on immigration and his proposal to "build a wall" separating the U.S. and Mexico. Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrant parents.

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