$25M deal over Trump University fraud lawsuits moves forward

A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld an agreement requiring President Donald Trump to pay $25 million to settle lawsuits accusing his now-defunct Trump University of fraud.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an effort by student Sherri Simpson to opt out of the deal and pursue her own lawsuit.

The move would have derailed the settlement resolving lawsuits that claimed the university pressured students to spend tens of thousands of dollars but then failed to deliver on promises to teach them how to be successful in real estate.

Simpson didn’t drop out of the agreement initially and claimed she had the right to do so before it was finalized. A three-judge panel of the court unanimously disagreed, saying neither a notice to affected students nor due process gave her a second chance to opt out.

The court also said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had ample reason to approve the deal.

“Both classes of plaintiffs would have faced significant hurdles had they proceeded to trial, including the difficulty of prevailing in a jury trial against either the president-elect (if the trial had proceeded as scheduled) or the sitting president,” Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote for the panel.

An attorney for Simpson referred comment to another attorney, who did not immediately respond.

The two class-action lawsuits and a civil lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman followed Trump throughout the presidential campaign.

Trump fueled the controversy by repeatedly insinuating that Curiel’s Mexican heritage made him biased against Trump. Trump had vowed never to settle but said after the election that he didn’t have time for a trial.

The president did not acknowledge any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement.

In a statement Tuesday, Scheiderman said the 9th Circuit ruling “means that victims of Donald Trump’s fraudulent university will soon receive the $25 million in relief they deserve.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys have said about 3,730 people will get at least 90 percent of their money back under the deal.

SUDHIN THANAWALA, Associated Press



Attorneys general in several states oppose federal tips plan

Attorneys general in over a dozen states oppose a federal Department of Labor proposal to let employers control the tips of some hourly employees.

The attorneys general filed comments in opposition with federal officials on Monday.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called the proposal that rescinds a 2011 rule “outrageous” and likened it to wage theft.

The plan applies to employees paid the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour. In Illinois, about half a million workers could be affected.

Attorneys general in the following states and the District of Columbia oppose the plan: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Vermont and Virginia.

Associated Press


Attorneys general sue Trump administration over water rule

Eleven Democratic state attorneys general on Tuesday sued President Donald Trump’s administration over its decision to delay implementation of an Obama-era rule that would have expanded the number of wetlands and small waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said last week’s decision by the Republican administration to postpone implementation of the 2015 Clean Water Rule for two years is an assault on public health.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has called the rule an overreach that could hurt farmers and ranchers. Mining and industry groups also opposed it.

“We will fight back against this reckless rollback and the Trump administration’s continued assault on our nation’s core public health and environmental protections,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed in New York by Schneiderman and his counterparts in California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. It seeks to stop the government from blocking implementation of the rule while considering alternatives.

The regulation was put on hold for the past two years by various court challenges that kept it from taking effect.

Schneiderman said the delay jeopardizes protections for streams that help provide drinking water to more than half of New York state residents and more than 100 million other Americans.

The attorneys general accuse the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of violating federal law. They claim the EPA does not have the authority to hold off on a regulation that “rests on a massive factual record,” according to the suit.

Public outreach in past years elicited more than 1 million comments, and was based on scientific studies demonstrating how waters are connected by tributaries, streams and wetlands, the attorneys general said.

VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press



‘Game of Thrones’ creators developing new ‘Star Wars’ films

“Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are writing and producing a new series of Star Wars movies for Lucasfilm.

The Walt Disney Studios said Tuesday the films will be separate from the Skywalker saga and the new trilogy being planned by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson.

Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement that the command that Benioff and Weiss have of complex characters and mythology will help break new ground for Star Wars. No release dates have been set.

Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement that they are honored and a little terrified by the responsibility. They plan to get started on Star Wars when the final season of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is complete. It is set to air in 2019.

Associated Press