Donald Trump on Witness List for Class Action Lawsuit, May Testify in San Diego | NBC 7 San Diego
Decision 2016

Decision 2016

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Donald Trump on Witness List for Class Action Lawsuit, May Testify in San Diego



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    Presidential candidate Donald Trump is listed as a witness in court documents in a long running civil lawsuit over his now-closed Trump University.

    According to pretrial disclosures filed with the U.S. District Court in San Diego, the plaintiffs list Trump as one of 23 potential witnesses and Trump’s attorneys list him as one of the 32 witnesses they may call to testify.

    Click here to see the complete witness list from the plaintiffs and here to see the complete witness list from the defense.

    Two different lawsuits allege Trump’s school engaged in deceptive practices and scammed thousands of students who enrolled in response to claims the school would make them rich in the real estate market. Both cases will be tried in San Diego.

    Trump's attorneys have repeatedly defended the school, claiming the lawsuits are politically motivated. NBC 7 Investigates reached out to Trump's attorney here in San Diego and have not heard back.

    Cohen v. Trump is a nationwide class action lawsuit; the other lawsuit, Makaeff v. Trump, is a class action in California, Florida and New York. In the Cohen case, a required conference to try to settle the case is set for March 29. In the Makaeff case, a final pretrial conference is set for May 6.

    With Trump pursuing the GOP nomination, the May pretrial conference date could force him to take a break from his campaign to testify in the case.

    Recently filed court documents also show the consumer for one case, Tarla Makaeff, has asked to be released from the class action lawsuit. According to the documents, another former Trump client would now become the consumer representing all the other former Trump University clients in the class action lawsuit.

    Trump's attorneys, Daniel Petrocelli, David Kirman and Jill Martin all based in California, have requested a hearing on March 11 to argue against Makaeff being released from the case.

    According to the court filing, "Makaeff has been the face of this class action case from the start" and "Plantiffs have relied on Makaeff in each and every key filing."

    The attorneys are arguing that if Makaeff is allowed to withdraw from the case, then the case against Trump should be dismissed, according to the documents.

    The court documents filed this month by Makaeff show how the case affected Makaeff. The lawsuit has wound its way through the legal system for six years.

    Click here to read more about the lawsuit and see the court documents.

    Makaeff asked the court to be released from the case because of the stresses involved, according to court documents. The document claims the problems began when Makaeff was countersued by Trump attorneys for $1 million in damages.

    According to the court documents, Makaeff said:

    "I have been litigating my claims in good faith since filing the lawsuit in April of 2010. Shortly after I filed the lawsuit, Trump University filed a counterclaim, alleging defamation and seeking $1,000,000 in damages. While this Court ultimately struck that counterclaim, it caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety in the 4-year interim because I was very concerned that I could be bankrupted in the process. I have been deposed four times in this case, on January 30, 2012, January 31, 2012, April 13, 2012, and February 10, 2014. I searched for, and produced, relevant documents in response to numerous discovery requests from defendants in this case. I have stayed apprised of the litigation and have traveled to San Diego to participate in the Court’s Early Neutral Evaluation Conference in 2011 and Mandatory Settlement Conference in 2015. I no longer wish to serve as a class representative due to intervening personal circumstances.”

    According to the court documents, Makaeff also said, “I have suffered significant health problems since this case was filed, which I can detail with documentation for this Court’s private consideration, if necessary. Finally, due to the anxiety and high stress that this litigation has caused for the past 6 years, particularly during my depositions, I am very concerned about the toll that the trial would take on my emotional and physical health and well-being.”

    A decision on whether Makaeff can be released from the role in the class action suit will be made April 22. Sonny Low has been identified as a replacement, according to the court documents.