A judge has approved a $25 million class action settlement that levied claims of fraud against President Donald Trump and his Trump University real estate classes.
The ruling was from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego, who Trump criticized during the presidential election campaign a year ago.
"I don't settle lawsuits - very rare - because once you settle lawsuits, everybody sues you", Trump said in March 2016, as opponents pressed him on Trump University.
Attorneys for the more than 3,700 former students in class-action suits in California and NY had urged Curiel to ratify the settlement, which refund them more than 90 cents for every dollar they spent at Trump University - arguing it's probably the best restitution they will ever get in the years-long dispute. He noted that only two of about 7,000 eligible class-action members objected to the terms.
Under the terms of the settlement, he admits no wrongdoing.
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Last year, the politician accused Indiana-born District Court judge Gonzalo Curiel of bias based on his Mexican ancestry.
Trump University was created in 2005, and promised to teach students investing techniques they could use to get rich in real estate - just like Trump. He said Sherri Simpson, who paid $35,000 in 2010 for Trump University's "Gold Elite" mentorship program and later appeared in anti-Trump campaign ads, missed her chance.
"The amount offered in settlement provides significant and immediate recovery", he wrote.
Students said they had been constantly pressured to spend more money but that the university had failed to deliver on the promises.
During an hour-long hearing Thursday, Simpson's attorney, Gary Friedman, argued that language in the 2015 notice implied that customers would be given another opportunity to opt out and sue Trump on their own.
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Clearing those final hurdles brought closure to the trio of lawsuits, the first of which was filed in April 2010. A month later, he granted it preliminary approval.
The settlement was announced 10 days before a trial was set to begin, sparing Mr Trump what would have been a major distraction.
Court documents unsealed past year revealed strategies for enticing people to enrol even if they could not afford it. In depositions, Trump acknowledged that he did not choose instructors. The documents outlined how employees should guide people through "the roller coaster of emotions" after they express interest and tells employees to be "very aggressive during these conversations to in order to push them out of their comfort zones".
The case attracted a great deal of attention during the 2016 presidential campaign, with Trump's rivals for the Republican nomination as well as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton using it against the billionaire businessman, who went on to win the November 8 election.
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