SAN DIEGO (CN) — Donald Trump asked a federal judge to decertify one of two class actions against Trump University, saying proposed changes by the class would create a series of “mini-trials” that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to challenge.
In a 7-page document filed by Trump’s attorney Daniel Petrocelli on Wednesday, Trump says Sonny Low and the other plaintiffs in the six-year-old class action violated court rules when they didn’t submit their proposed order at the same time as they filed a motion to clarify or amend the court’s class certification orders. He also says the plaintiffs do not want to simply clarify the scope of the trial but in reality seek “a dramatic expansion” of the case.
The proposed order from Low and the other plaintiffs was filed Aug. 22 but is not publicly available.
Plaintiffs in the Low case accused Trump University of duping students into paying upwards of $30,000 for “insider” real estate information which turned out to be little more than an infomercial. Among the most egregious claims are that Trump University claimed it was an accredited “university” and that instructors were “handpicked” by Trump himself.
At a July 22 hearing, Low’s attorney Jason Forge asked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to “clarify” the scope of class certification in terms of the “university” claim.
The plaintiffs seek to certify a theory of fraud, Trump argues, based on an allegation that the New York State Education Department had warned Trump it was unlawful to use the “university” title. But Trump says the class is essentially attempting to convert “a case certified on ‘common misrepresentations’ to one based on an alleged ‘omission.'”
Trump says he has never been given a chance to challenge plaintiffs’ “novel omission-based theory of liability,” which he says they are trying to turn into a “convoluted issue” involving whether Trump was “substantially involved” in live events or hiring and whether Trump had been warned it was unlawful to use the “university” title.
This would cause “insurmountable prejudice” to defendants since Trump hasn’t directed discovery toward the theory or “litigated its appropriateness,” according to Trump’s filing. It would also require the parties to present evidence regarding evidence about who warned Trump about using the “university” title, the GOP presidential nominee says.
But Low fired back in a 5-page filing Thursday, noting that at the July 22 hearing Curiel specifically asked plaintiffs what they were proposing in terms of an order, to which Forge responded he would submit a proposed order.
Trump’s attorney did not object, and Curiel did not discourage submitting the filing, Low points out. He also adds an obvious fact: Curiel has “unfettered discretion” to accept, reject or modify the proposed order in whole, or in part.
Low also accuses Trump of a pattern of “aggressively denying facts” throughout the case, pointing to Trump’s assertion the plaintiffs falsely claimed that Trump University used scripts for its live-events instructors. That turned out to be untrue, leading the court to “frown upon defendants’ delay in producing highly relevant information” and Trump University’s former president Michael Sexton to acknowledge that he had provided false sworn testimony, according to the filing.
“Trump’s objection demonstrates once again that he routinely makes up his own facts in order to avoid facing the real ones. Accusing plaintiffs of improperly submitting a proposed order that mirrors exactly what plaintiffs told the court they could submit (without any objection from defense counsel) is just another example of how Trump seeks to avoid battles he cannot afford to lose by concocting ones he can: battles over false accusations against his adversaries,” Low says in the filing.
The proposed order is under submission. Curiel has said he will issue a written order on the matter.
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