A US federal judge has encouraged lawyers involved in a class-action lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump’s now-defunct university to settle the case out of court.
US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whom Trump accused of bias during the campaign because of his Mexican heritage, said at a hearing in San Diego, California, yesterday that another judge had offered to work with both sides on a possible settlement.
“I can tell you right now I’m all ears,” Trump attorney Daniel Petrocelli told Curiel, according to local media.
Petrocelli told the judge it was unlikely that Trump, who has been called as a witness in the case, would be able to attend the trial set for November 28 in San Diego. He added that he planned to file a motion for the trial to be delayed for several months while Trump prepares to take office on January 20.
Attorneys for Trump have sought to exclude from the trial any comments their client made during the presidential campaign on the grounds it could prejudice the jury.
Trump repeatedly hit out against the Indiana-born Curiel during his run for the White House. He claimed that the jurist’s Mexican heritage would stand in the way of a fair trial given Trump’s controversial stand on illegal immigration and his vow to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
The six-year-old lawsuit alleges that Trump University fleeced students by tricking them with aggressive marketing that amounted to fraud.
Students paid as much as USD 35,000 to enroll, believing they would make it big in real estate after being taught by experts hand-picked by Trump, the suit says.
Trump’s lawyers counter that many students have given the program a thumbs-up and those who failed to succeed have only themselves to blame.