Trump U. Class Attacks Trump for ‘Crying Wolf’

     SAN DIEGO (CN) — Former Trump University students suing Donald Trump and seeking class certification accused the presumptive GOP nominee of “crying wolf” whenever they file motions to clarify the scope of the lawsuit.
     Trump chastised the class four months ago for allowing former lead plaintiff Tarla Makaeff to be dismissed from the case, saying it would “cripple” their ability to defend the case. But now plaintiffs have requested U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel confirm “the scope of the class action to be consistent with plaintiffs’ allegations.”
     Trump claims he will be severely prejudiced because his legal team has “based their trial, discovery and appellate strategy on the court’s certification order.”
     But the class fired back, claiming Trump’s lawyers didn’t adequately oppose their request to modify the scheduling order to allow them to clarify the scope of certification.
     “Crying wolf is no substitute for honest substantive advocacy, which is sorely lacking in defendants’ opposition to plaintiffs’ motion to modify the scheduling order,” the class said in its reply.
     In Trump’s motion to decertify the class, he argued the plaintiffs failed to seek leave before filing the motion with the court and failed to articulate the relief they seek. But lead plaintiff Sonny Low and others claim they “plainly state” their motion seeks to clarify or amend the court’s class certification orders.
     Low and former students claim in the older of two San Diego class actions against Trump University they were defrauded by marketing tactics used to position the school as a way to get rich off the foreclosure crisis stemming from the Great Recession. Among the most egregious claims are that Trump University claimed it was an accredited “university” and that instructors were “handpicked” by Trump himself.
     As to damages, Low and the other plaintiffs claim there is no request or need for clarification as that will be worked out during the damages phase if the jury finds in favor of the class.
     But the majority of the class’s response filing takes jabs at Trump’s argument the plaintiffs’ “university” claim is new, pointing out that “everything is new” to the fourth law firm to represent Trump in the action.
     “Three different law firms represented defendants in this case throughout the 5 1/2 years it was pending before they enlisted their fourth law firm,” the plaintiffs say.
     Trump is now represented by Daniel Petrocelli with O’Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles.
     The claim that Trump University misled students by marketing itself as a legitimate university “despite it being unlawful to do so” is not a new allegation, the class says, adding that their third amended class action complaint was filed with the “university” claim more than three years before defendants “enlisted their fourth firm.
     The phrase “new to defendant’s fourth firm, but not new to the case” is written multiple times in the filing, reiterating that the class did not suddenly spring this major claim on Trump and his attorneys.
     A class notice with a description of the case stipulated by both parties even mentions the “university” claim, the class points out.
     Low and the other plaintiffs are seeking to confirm that the nature of the “university” claim at trial will be the same as set forth in the class notice the parties agreed to.
     “Defendants’ attempt to draw a bright line between their misrepresentation and omissions is misguided in this context. The bottom line here is that it was deceptive for defendants to hold out Trump University as a ‘university’ because it clearly was not a university, and it was unlawful to represent that it was,” the class says.
     It would have been “irrational” for the plaintiffs to seek clarification prior to the defendants’ April 2016 proposed pretrial order because the parties previously agreed to the description of the “university” claim, the class says.
     “There was no reason to suspect that defendants’ future fourth firm would advocate such a different, and unjustifiably narrow and literal, reading of the court’s original class certification order,” the plaintiffs claim.
     Flipping the script, Low and the other plaintiffs point out that defendants’ new interpretation of the “university” claim would affect their allegations, briefs in support of class certification and arguments made in their motion for class certification. Trump’s contention that the “university” claim is a new claim has “muddied the waters,” which led the plaintiffs to clarify that the court and the parties “got it right” with regard to the class notice.
     A hearing on Trump’s motion to decertify the class is scheduled for July 22.

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