But as Trump morphed from a long-shot GOP primary candidate into the Republican presidential nominee, and now, the president-elect, it became increasingly clear that his traditional legal strategy ― dragging out lawsuits and burying the other guy in motions and paperwork ― could have a significant downside.
The prospect of a jury trial in California that was scheduled to begin Nov. 28 likely created a significant incentive for Trump and his lawyers to settle the cases. A spokeswoman for the Trump transition team did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the settlement from The Huffington Post.
The settlement will pay Trump University students who were part of the class action at least 55 percent of their damages, the plaintiffs’ San Diego, California -based lawyers said in a statement.
“With any luck, they’ll have the money they wasted on Trump University back in their wallets by the middle of next year,” said the statement from Zeldes Haeggquist Eck.
Trump University was created in 2006, one of a number of schemes Trump pursued in order to help maximize the income he could draw from his reputation as a successful businessman. The “university” promised that students would be taught how to invest in real estate like Trump did, the implication being that they could someday become multi-millionaires like him.
Trump University’s “courses” cost as much as $30,000 per person, and a key part of their value propositions was that Trump had personally hand-picked each of the instructors, who would teach customers all of Trump’s “secrets.”
In reality, however, Trump University was little more than a traveling side show, where presenters used high-pressure sales tactics to convince people to sign up for ever more expensive “lessons” and “mentoring,” all in the hopes that someday, they might become as rich as Trump.
Not surprisingly, the real estate success rate of Trump University’s customers was very low, and practically as soon as the seminar program opened, it began receiving complaints and demands for refunds.
Trump, however, claimed that people loved the courses, citing the positive reviews people wrote on their evaluations on the last day of class.
In 2010, Trump University went out of business, having drowned in a sea of complaints, civil fraud investigations, class action lawsuits and Trump’s own disinterest.
As the complaints and legal issues piled up, Trump responded with his typical real estate litigation strategy. First, he blamed the victims, then he denied things that were obviously true. Thirdly, he retaliated, attacking the accusers, their families and their lawyers.
This March, Trump zeroed in on three former Trump University students who are now suing the seminar company. Listen to how Trump describes them on this video, posted on his presidential campaign website: