One of the four lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Trump University is looking for a way out.
The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by Tarla Makaeff, alleging that Trump University had defrauded its students and made promises it did not intend to keep. However, she now says Donald Trump has publicly demeaned her online as well as during his political rallies, causing her to look for a way to withdraw from the lawsuit. Makaeff wrote in a court filing, “I am very concerned about the toll that the trial would take on my emotional and physical health and well-being.”
Makaeff has been through a number of health problems, in addition to the loss of her mother and financial issues, since filing the lawsuit, and she is nervous that Trump will continue to come after her. After she filed the lawsuit, seeking $1 million from Trump, he fired back by suing for defamation of character in 2010. Although that case was dismissed, Trump maintained in a 2012 deposition, “We will be suing your law firm for as much as we can possibly do.”
“I don’t think anybody anticipated a year ago where we find ourselves,” said Makaeff’s lawyer, Rachel Jensen, referring to Trump’s status as the GOP front-runner. “She didn’t sign up for that. Ms. Makaeff has simply been put through too much,” she said.
In all, Makaeff spent $60,000 on fees while attending Trump University. She argues that she was promised financial success by the institution, which she says did not deliver. However, Trump’s lawyers said it is not the fault of the University that she was unable to become successful, claiming that she did not put in the time or effort necessary, reports Michal Addady for Fortune.
According to former students of the school, they paid upwards of $35,000 for the courses, where they said they were supposed to be taught Trump’s insider-business secrets to become successful in the real estate market. Despite advertising that said instructors and mentors were handpicked by Trump, students said that in reality this was not the case and the courses were run like infomercials with the goal of getting them to spend even more money.
Meanwhile, Trump’s lawyers blame the students for their lack of success, writes Kristina Davis for The Los Angeles Times.
Trump’s lawyers would not like to see Makaeff withdraw from the case, charging that she is a key witness in their defense because they must prove her claims to be false. They said it would be unfair for her to back out now, adding that, “She should be required to finish what she started.”
While she would not be named among the class representatives in the case, she would like to continue on as a plaintiff in order to collect damages.
Makaeff did not attend the hearing, but U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel was provided medical documents from her lawyers. A decision on the issue is expected within a week or so, writes Nicole Hong for The Wall Street Journal.
Two plaintiffs have already withdrawn from the case. With the last pretrial hearing scheduled for May 6, if Makaeff is allowed to withdraw from the case, there will be three plaintiffs left.