Trump University Files Motion to Compel Depositions of Allegedly Defrauded Consumers


On September 16, 2016, Trump University filed a motion to compel the New York State Attorney General to produce the names of the consumers who were allegedly defrauded by Trump University and to produce those witnesses to testify at depositions.

By way of background, the case, People of the State of New York v. Trump Entrepreneur Initiative LLC, et al., relates to an entity formerly known as “Trump University LLC” that Donald Trump, with others, incorporated as a New York limited liability company in 2004.  Trump University purported, by way of seminars and mentoring programs, to instruct small business owners and individual entrepreneurs in real estate investing.

In August 2013, the Attorney General commenced a special court proceeding, alleging that between 2005 and 2011, Trump University operated an unlicensed, illegal educational institution. The Attorney General further alleged that Trump University intentionally misled more than 5,000 students, including over 600 New York residents, into paying as much as $35,000 each to participate in live seminars and mentor programs that the students thought were part of a licensed university.

The case was on appeal until earlier this year for a determination of the proper statute of limitations for this action.  The Appellate Division held that the applicable statute of limitations for the Attorney General’s fraud claim against Trump University is six years, which is the limitations period which corresponds to common law fraud, rather than the three-year statute of limitations provided by the specific statute at issue, Executive Law § 63 (12). 137 A.D.3d 409, 412, 26 N.Y.S.3d 66 (1st Dep’t 2016).

Now that the appeal is over, Trump University seeks to enforce a ruling of the trial court that “to the extent the AG seeks to assert a claim for common law fraud against respondents … it must prove individual justifiable reliance on behalf of each student consumer.”  Trump University argues, therefore, that it is entitled to depose “each and every consumer on behalf of whom” the Attorney General seeks damages for common law fraud.   The Attorney General’s response to Trump University’s motion to compel is due October 20, 2016.

Lenders, loan servicers, and others in the consumer finance industry in New York should be mindful of the court’s pending decision on Trump University’s motion.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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