We represent Sherri Simpson in her appeal in the fraud class action against Trump University. Pitching itself as a real university with selective admissions, the company’s aggressive sales staff promised aspiring investors the chance to learn Donald Trump’s real-estate “secrets” from his supposedly “hand-picked” experts.
After she spent roughly $19,000 on a useless three-day seminar and a “mentor” who never returned her calls, Sherri Simpson was determined to sue Trump University on her own. But when she learned of a class action that was already headed for trial, she decided to drop her own efforts. The class notice assured Sherri and her fellow class members that they would be notified of how to “ask to be excluded from any settlement.”
Despite this clear notice language, when the class action settled after the election–for what Trump himself (via Twitter) called a “small fraction” of the total liability–the settlement agreement explicitly cut off Ms. Simpson’s ability to opt out of the settlement. She would be forced to accept only 14% of the value of her potential claim. And there would be no public trial and no admission of wrongdoing.
In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, we’re arguing that the approval of this settlement, because it cuts off a promised opt-out right, violates both due process and the requirements for class actions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Our principal co-counsel is Gary Friedman, who argued for Ms. Simpson in the trial court. Deepak Gupta will argue the appeal for Ms. Simpson in Pasadena, California on November 15, 2017.