Trump University lawyers ask judge for another shot at ending class action

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 06, 2016 8:32 PM

By Karen Freifeld and Jim Christie

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lawyers for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asked the California federal judge he attacked last week as biased based on his Mexican heritage to end the Trump University fraud class action currently scheduled to go on trial in November.

In filings late on Friday, Trump's lawyers argued the case should not continue as a class action including all students who took the classes in California, New York and Florida. The lawyers claimed the students' cases were too dissimilar to be heard as a class because they were exposed to different marketing and advertisements and were told different things by Trump University employees.

San Diego U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel is overseeing two class action lawsuits over Trump University. Last week, the presidential candidate said Curiel had treated him unfairly because he was a Mexican opposed to Trump's proposal to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The judge was born in Indiana to Mexican parents.

Trump's lawyers on Friday sought permission from Judge Curiel to renew an earlier motion to decertify the class. The judge previously ruled the case could proceed as a class action on the issue of liability, though each student would have to prove damages separately.

In April, Trump's lawyers also filed a motion to decertify the class in the other California case. The judge has not yet ruled on that motion.

If the judge were to decertify the classes, former Trump University students would have to bring individual lawsuits.

Trump and his for-profit real estate seminars have been accused of bilking students who paid as much as $35,000 for an opportunity to learn the businessman's real estate investment strategies. The students claim they were defrauded, including by false claims that he had handpicked instructors to teach them his secrets.

"Given TU students' radically different experiences, plaintiffs cannot show that TU students were exposed to the same 'core' misrepresentations," Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Trump, wrote in Friday's filing.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs declined to comment on the filing.

(Reporting By Karen Freifeld and Jim Christie; Editing by Anthony Lin, Bernard Orr)