Published: Fresh U. July 26, 2016. Viewable here.
A 2013 class action lawsuit against Presidential candidate Donald Trump for his involvement in the fraudulent Trump University has been denied for dismissal. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel issued a ruling stating that those involved in the lawsuit against Trump had met the legal requirements necessary for the case to be decided upon by a jury.
The Republican presidential nominee’s lawyers argued that he had little involvement in the running of the university and should not be held accountable for the fraudulence. However, lawyers who represented the plaintiffs proved that Trump had an on-going involvement in the university as he approved all forms of marketing and appeared in video promotions created to boost enrollment.
The university, a for-profit company in business from 2005-2010 which offered expertise in such areas as entrepreneurship and real estate, ran much like a timeshare company – lured in first by the offer of free seminars, those interested could enroll as “students” and choose from classes starting at $1,000 to upwards of $30,000.
“If you’re going to achieve anything, you have to take action, and action is what Trump University is all about,” Trump stated in a promotional video. “Trump University is about knowledge about a lot of different things – above all, it’s about how to become successful.”
Those interested in the promise of success were also promised reputable professors and mentors who were successes in the business world.
“We are going to have professors … that are absolutely terrific – terrific people, terrific brains, successful,” Trump says. “We are going to have the best of the best. Honestly, if you don’t learn from them, if you don’t learn from me – and these are people that are hand-picked by me – then you’re just not going to make it in terms of the world of success.”
The promises all fell flat, while the university generated near $40 million.
Those involved in the lawsuit against Trump built their case under federal racketeering laws – laws which protect against and punish dishonest services – and specifically the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) which allows the leaders (in this case, Trump) of those involved in organized racketeering to be penalized. Under RICO, the plaintiffs in this case may sue for double or triple what they lost to the deceitful university.
Ronald Schnackenberg, who once worked for Trump University as a salesman, admitted the company’s planned fraudulence in his testimony for this case.
“While Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money in real estate, in fact Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could,” Schnackenberg stated. “Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”