Serving California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois with COVID-19 precautions in place and convenient virtual meetings.

Judge rules consumer fraud claims must go to jury in Trump case

A class action consumer case against Donald Trump and Trump University was filed in a federal court in California in 2010 by a disgruntled student. That action waits to get further direction forward even as a primary election battle comes to California, mixing politics unavoidably in the general aura of the stalled consumer litigation case. In another case that has been active recently, a state court judge in another state rejected the attorney general’s request for a summary judgment on his consumer fraud complaint against Trump University.

Summary judgment is a common motion that is made in substantial litigation cases in state and federal courts. The motion is more often filed by the defendant, although either party can use the procedure. The motion in this case is made by the attorney general, i.e., the plaintiff, and asserts there are no factual issues in dispute, that it is undisputed by the factual evidence that the school committed consumer fraud. The motion asks the trial judge to enter judgment in favor of the attorney general and against Trump, without having a trial.

The party filing a summary judgment motion is asserting that the other side has failed to show any significant evidence to support its assertions. The judge takes all of the affidavits, depositions, pleadings, interrogatories and other discovery and factual matter into consideration. In the New York case brought by that state’s attorney general, the motion requests that the judge declare Trump University guilty of consumer fraud without the necessity of a jury trial.

The judge’s rejection of the motion means that a jury trial will take place. The decision concludes that there are substantial factual disputes regarding the issue of consumer fraud that a jury can resolve. For example, was the program that was marketed and advertised by the university one that was valuable and worthy of its factual promises? The question will be the subject of conflicting witness testimony and documentary evidence. The jury will take the conflicting evidence and decide the factual disputes, in much the same manner that a California or a federal jury would do it in those respective jurisdictions.

Source: capitalnewyork.com, “Judge denies request for summary judgment in Trump University fraud case”, Conor Skelding, April 26, 2016