© Reuters. Trump holds a rally at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky
By Karen Freifeld and Marty Graham
SAN DIEGO / NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge said Thursday he was inclined to approve a $ 25 million settlement over fraud allegations against President Donald Trump and his Trump University real estate seminars, but postponed the final decision. for a later date.
At a hearing in San Diego, Judge Gonzalo Curiel noted that under the class action settlement, former Trump University students were expected to recoup 80 percent of the money they spent on courses and tutoring programs.
“That’s an extraordinary amount,” the judge said, noting that the recovery rate in similar lawsuits is typically closer to between 11 and 20 percent. He did not specify when he would rule.
A Florida woman opposed the deal, saying she should have a chance to opt out and take Trump to court herself.
Patrick Coughlin, a student class action attorney, said the students would actually get more than 90 percent of their money. About 3,730 students filed claim forms in the class action lawsuit dating from 2010, according to court documents.
The students, who paid up to $ 35,000 for the seminars, said they were lured by false promises that they would learn Trump’s investment “secrets” from his “hand-picked” instructors.
Trump promised to continue to fight fraud allegations during the presidential election campaign, but accepted the deal shortly after. He has admitted that he did not personally select the instructors, but his lawyers have described the claim as a mere sales “hoax.”
Trump accused Curiel of bias last year based on the Indiana-born judge’s Mexican ancestry.
Sherri Simpson of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who paid $ 19,000, opposed the settlement’s provision that prevents students from getting out of the deal. She has said in court documents that she would like to seek a full recovery from Trump, in addition to punitive damages and other relief.
Gary Friedman, an attorney for Simpson, argued in court that the notices were faulty. Curiel questioned Friedman and said he would consider the objection.
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