Judge Hands Down Potentially Crushing Ruling Against Donald Trump In Racketeering Lawsuit

Donald TrumpReuters/Gary CameronReal estate developer Donald Trump displays his hairline after a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington May 27, 2014.

A civil racketeering lawsuit against Donald Trump can proceed as a class action, a federal judge has ruled, in a major incremental victory for a former student accusing him of running a bogus investment university.

The ruling by Judge Gonzalo Curiel means that a California businessman named Art Cohen can sue Donald Trump on behalf of anybody who bought seminars from Trump University after January 2007.

That lawsuit accuses Donald Trump and his university of violating federal racketeering law by scheming to defraud students into paying thousands for useless real-estate investing classes.

Curiel’s ruling is a big deal because it’s generally not worth a lawyer’s time to pursue a case like this on behalf of one person. Now, Cohen is representing thousands of people who were allegedly duped by Trump University, according to court documents filed by his attorneys.

Trump University stopped operating in 2011, but has been the subject of continuous litigation. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump University last year for allegedly failing to deliver on promises to teach real estate investment techniques and defrauding students of $US40 million.

Cohen also filed his suit last year after he allegedly spent $US34,996 on Trump University’s “Gold Elite” program. Trump misled students into believing they would learn investment secrets from both him and his “handpicked professors,” the lawsuit claims. Instead, Cohen claimed, Trump had no real role in choosing instructors and didn’t give students access to any of his real estate investing secrets.

“The misleading nature of the enterprise is embodied by its very name,” the complaint stated. “That is because, though Defendant promised ‘Trump University,’ he delivered neither Donald Trump nor a university.”

We reached out to Trump’s lawyers for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

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