The judge decided that California businessman Art Cohen, the lead plaintiff in the racketeering class action, had provided sufficient evidence that the marketing of the allegedly fraudulent live events, including mailers with prominent pictures and quotes from Trump, as well as a coat of arms and educational language, resulted in thousands of people to pay to attend.
In the lawsuit, Cohen accuses Trump of failing to teach the students his investment secrets, failing to contribute in any meaningful way to the curriculum for the live events or choose the seminar instructors and mentors. Moreover, the New York State Education Department warned the defendant that using the name "University"was illegal without a license, while multiple attorneys general launched investigations into the deceptive practices, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit further alleges that Trump uniformly misled Cohen and the class that they would learn his real estate secrets through him and his handpicked professors at the elite Trump University, which is now named the Trump Entrepreneur Institute. Cohen alleges he attended a free seminar after receiving a "special invitation"in the mail, then paid almost $1,500 to attend a three-day real estate retreat, where he paid almost $35,000 more for additional training.
In his certification, Judge Curiel wrote, "Although [Trump] may yet show that plaintiff and the putative class members knew or should have known that defendant had devised a scheme to falsely market Trump University via mail or wire prior to October 2009, the court is satisfied that determination of defendant' statute of limitations defense in this case will not defeat the predominance of common issues in this case."
Judge Curiel also ruled that Cohen's claims were typical of those among other proposed class members because plaintiff's description of his experience with Trump University matched the allegations alleged on behalf of the putative class in his complaint.
Cohen and the proposed class are represented by Jason A. Forge and Rachel L. Jensen of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP; and Amber L. Eck, Helen I. Zeldes and Aaron M. Olsen of Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck LLP.
The case is Art Cohen et al. v. Donald J. Trump, case number 3:13-cv-02519, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.