A federal judge has approved a $25 million settlement to resolve three fraud lawsuits against the now-defunct Trump University, ending nearly seven years of legal battles with former students who claim they were misled.
President Donald Trump agreed to the settlement in November but a woman – one of thousands of former students who joined a class action lawsuit – objected to the deal, stating that she wanted to proceed to trial to hold Trump accountable.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled against the woman and approved the settlement. Sherri Simpson, the former student who paid nearly $19,000 for seminars and a mentorship program, still has the option to appeal the settlement.
Under the settlement, Trump will have to pay a total of $25 million in restitution, which means that all of the 6,000 people who sued will get 90% of their money back. Trump will also pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws, although under the terms of the deal he admits no wrongdoing.
“Today’s final approval by a judge of our Trump University settlement will provide relief – and hopefully much-needed closure – to the victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “Trump University’s victims waited years for compensation, while President Trump refused to settle and fought us every step of the way – until his stunning reversal last fall.”
There was no immediate comment from Trump regarding Friday’s approval, but during the presidential campaign he had said repeatedly that he would never settle the case. “I could have settled but won’t out of principle!”, he wrote on Twitter in February 2016.
At one point during the presidential campaign, Trump was widely criticized for his comments about the federal judge who oversaw the lawsuits against Trump University, claiming that the judge was biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.
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