NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former student of U.S. President Donald Trump’s now-defunct Trump University formally said on Monday she would appeal a federal judge’s approval of the $25 million settlement of three fraud lawsuits over the real estate seminars.
Sherri Simpson, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who paid $19,000 to learn Trump’s investing secrets in 2010, filed a notice of appeal seeking to take Trump to court individually and recoup more money than the settlement would provide.
Simpson objects to the settlement provision blocking students from opting out of the deal.
She had raised her objections before U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego. On March 31, Curiel overruled her objection and approved the deal, which he said represented an “extraordinary” 80 percent recovery for the plaintiffs.
Last year, Trump accused Curiel of bias based on the Indiana-born judge’s Mexican ancestry.
Simpson is appealing that ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump has been highly critical of that court, which earlier this year upheld a ruling overturning his first executive order banning citizens from certain Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.
New York lawyer Gary Friedman, who represents Simpson, said in a statement that Trump tweeted that students might have gotten more. On Nov. 19, the then-president-elect said he settled for a “a small fraction of the potential award” and the “ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!”
California lawyer Jason Forge, who represents the students in two of the three lawsuits, said the objection had little chance of success but could delay payments.
Attorneys with experience in the 9th Circuit said appeals typically take longer than 18 months, although the students’ lawyers could seek an outright dismissal that could be decided upon in months.
“We have many senior citizen students waiting for money that will change the last years of their lives and this patently frivolous appeal could mean they die without it,” Forge said in an interview.
Simpson and other students claimed they were lured into the seminars by false promises that they would learn Trump’s investment strategies from his “hand-picked” instructors. Trump admitted he did not pick the instructors but said the claim was sales “puffery.”
Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Richard Chang