Court of appeals upholds $25M settlement after former students sue Trump University

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A $25 million settlement approved by a federal judge in San Diego between Trump University and former students who claim they were bilked by the real-estate program was upheld by an appeals court Tuesday.

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected a challenge to the settlement filed by one of the former students who wanted to pursue her own lawsuit in hopes of forcing now-President Donald Trump to issue an apology. The $25 million settlement was approved in March 2017 by U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose handling of the case came under fire by then-candidate
Trump, who suggested the jurist’s Mexican ancestry tainted his decision-making in light of Trump’s hard-line stance on curbing the flow of immigrants over the U.S.-Mexico border.

The former student who challenged the settlement, Sherri Simpson, was a plaintiff in one of three lawsuits against Trump litigated during the 2016 presidential campaign. The suits argued that the for-profit institution used false advertising to lure prospective students to “free” seminars only to aggressively market to them expensive classes and mentorship programs.

Simpson’s attorney said she was bilked out of $20,000 by the Trump University real estate program, and she wanted to file her own lawsuit in hopes of Trump being forced to apologize.

The appeals panel ruled, however, that Simpson did not have the right to opt out of the appeal under the terms of the class action.

The settlement was reached shortly after Trump was elected president.

About 8,000 former students are eligible to receive 80 to 90 percent of what they paid for Trump University programs, totaling $21 million in two lawsuits filed in California and $4 million in a case filed by the New York attorney general.

But under the terms, Trump did not admit any wrongdoing.

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