Trump U Deal Flawed, Objector Tells 9th Circuit

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By Perry Cooper

A former Trump University student told the Ninth Circuit June 12 she should have been allowed to opt out of the $25 million settlement that Donald Trump agreed to shortly after he was elected president ( Simpson v. Trump Univ. LLC , 9th Cir., No. 17-55635, opening brief filed 6/12/17 ).

Class members were told in the notice of class certification they would have another chance to ask to be excluded from a settlement, objector Sherri Simpson says in her opening brief.

Simpson appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after the district court gave final approval to the settlement over her objections.

She brought in plaintiff-side appellate boutique Gupta Wessler PLLC for the appeal.

This is not the firm’s first tangle with Trump. In April it sued the president on behalf of liberal nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, alleging his hospitality businesses illegally benefit from his presidency.

No Opt-Out Opportunity

The settlement resolves claims by a class of Trump University alumni who say they were duped by false promises of riches and instant success.

Simpson planned to sue on her own, but decided to join the class action when she learned it was headed for trial. She believed she would have a future opportunity to opt out, she says.

But the class settlement notice didn’t provide a way for Simpson to exclude herself from the settlement, under which she would receive $9,500. She says she could win $66,000 in damages if she were to prevail at trial.

The settlement violates her due process rights by taking away the right to opt out that she was promised in the certification notice, she argues.

Trump University’s response is due July 12.

Gupta Wessler; Gary Bruce Friedman in New York; and Markun Zusman Freniere & Compton LLP represented the objector.

Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck LLP represented the class.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP represented Trump University.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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