President Donald Trump has frequently touted the fact that he doesn't settle lawsuits, yet days after his election to the presidency in 2016, he offered a $25 million settlement to former Trump University students who had filed several lawsuits alleging fraud. On Tuesday, that settlement moved forward, leaving the suing students one step closer to being reimbursed.
A challenge by Florida bankruptcy lawyer Sherri Simpson was rejected by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Politico reported. Simpson hoped to bring the president to trial over $19,000 worth of classes she previously paid for, as well as a mentorship program.
In her 21-page opinion, Judge Jacqueline Nguyen upheld the $25 million settlement and highlighted the difficulties associated with bringing Trump to court, as he would have been the president-elect at the time of the trial.
"Both classes of plaintiffs would have faced significant hurdles had they proceeded to trial, including the difficulty of prevailing in a jury trial against either the President-Elect (if the trial had proceeded as scheduled) or the sitting President (if the trial had been postponed, as Defendants requested)," Nguyen wrote in her opinion, according to Politico. "Under these challenging circumstances, the district court acted well within its discretion by approving the settlement."
Simpson's challenge was the only thing potentially preventing students from being reimbursed. Appeals to greater 9th Circuit judges or even the U.S. Supreme Court would have delayed the settlement much further. Trump's lawyers have said that they would pull out of the agreed settlement if the court allowed Simpson to proceed to trial.
"I'm not surprised, but we are disappointed that there will never be a public trial on Trump University and that all of the lurid facts about the fraud won't receive the public hearing they deserve," Gary Friedman, an attorney for Simpson, told Politico.
In total, roughly 4,000 former Trump University students will be entitled to receive as much as 90 percent of their money back. Prices ranged from as little as $1,500 per seminar to as much as $35,000 for a top-tier mentorship.
Of course, Trump has blasted the idea of settling — despite several past settlements — and when the Trump University settlement was announced last year, he said it was only because he wanted to "focus on the country."
In years past, he's also bashed settlements.