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Judge approves $25 million settlement of Trump University lawsuit

President Trump talks to journalists at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists at the Oval Office of the White House after the AHCA health care bill was pulled before a vote in Washington, U.S. March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Dan Levine

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Friday approved a $25 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit that claimed fraud against President Donald Trump and his Trump University real estate seminars.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego concluded a lengthy and contentious lawsuit that played a prominent role in the presidential campaign last year.

The Trump University students, who paid as much as $35,000 for the seminars, claimed they were lured by false promises that they would learn Trump’s investing “secrets” from his “hand-picked” instructors.

One Trump University student objected to the deal, in particular a provision blocking students from opting out of it. She said in court papers she would like to seek full recovery from Trump, plus punitive damages and other relief.

An attorney for that student could not immediately be reached for comment.

During the campaign, Trump vowed to continue fighting the fraud claims but agreed to the settlement soon after he was elected. He has admitted he did not personally select the instructors, but his lawyers have described the claim as sales “puffery.”

Last year, Trump accused Judge Curiel of bias based on the Indiana-born judge’s Mexican ancestry.

In his ruling on Friday, Curiel called the $25 million settlement “extraordinary” in that it represented an estimated 80 percent recovery for the students.

“The amount offered in settlement provides significant and immediate recovery,” Curiel wrote.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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