Judge Denies Request to Dismiss Trump University Lawsuit

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A federal judge has denied a request made by lawyers for Donald Trump to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the Republican presidential nominee of defrauding those who enrolled in Trump University.

No elaboration was made concerning the decision of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to deny the request, which was made just one day after Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

Daniel Petrocelli, an attorney for Trump, called the lawsuit a “gross overreach” of federal civil racketeering statutes in a last push for the judge to reconsider his decision.  He went on to say that the plaintiffs were unable to prove that Trump himself was responsible for the alleged claims of misleading marketing.

“He did not run Trump University. He was not the chief operating officer. He did not direct the day-to-day affairs,” Petrocelli said. “The idea that he is somehow at the center of it is not supported by the evidence in the case.”

Curiel is expected to release a final decision in writing at a later date, writes Greg Moran for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Originally filed in 2013 by former student Art Cohen, the complaint is one of two class-action lawsuits brought against Trump in San Diego over Trump University before the same judge.  Trump is also facing a lawsuit in New York.

The suits claim that seminars and classes for Trump University were held in hotel ballrooms throughout the country.  Acting more like infomercials than classes, former students said they were constantly pressured to buy more with the school never delivering.  Cohen said he attended a three-day seminar in 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  He spent $1,495 on the class and an additional $34,995 on the “Gold Elite” mentorship program.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to state that customers have continuously reported being satisfied, adding that he has not done anything to deceive them.

In court documents filed for Friday’s hearing, Trump’s lawyers called the sales pitches “classic examples of sales puffery common to advertising everywhere.”  They went on to claim that Trump had little to do with the actual day-to-day operations, saying that he delegated those responsibilities after creating Trump University in 2005.

However, lawyers for the plaintiffs argue against Trump’s claims of limited involvement, saying, “He only starred in the marketing materials. Signed them. Corrected them. And approved them.”

While the trial for the other lawsuit in California against Trump is scheduled for November 28, the Cohen suit has yet to be scheduled for trial.

Last week, Curiel faced Trump’s lawyers over an argument pertaining to the release of Trump’s sworn testimony at depositions in December and January.  Lawyers for Trump noted that the transcripts should be plenty, but Curiel has not given a ruling on the request yet.  If released, Trump’s lawyers are concerned that the video could be used in campaign attack ads.

Trump previously attacked the judge over his Mexican heritage after Curiel allowed the release of unrelated documents in the case in May.  Since then, Trump has vowed to stop talking about the judge.