THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. APRIL 18, 2013. A federal appeals court on Wednesday breathed new life into a lawsuit filed by a former student who alleges that Donald Trump’s university engages in deceptive business practices, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The student, Tarla Makaeff of San Diego, filed the lawsuit in 2010, alleging that Trump University had failed to deliver on a promised education that cost her almost $35,000. She also complained to the Better Business Bureau and in online chat rooms. The institution filed a countersuit, alleging that Ms. Makaeff’s claims were defamatory and seeking dismissal of her lawsuit.
A lower court refused Ms. Makaeff’s request to have the defamation suit dismissed, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously overturned that decision on Wednesday. The appellate court’s opinion says that Trump University is a “public figure” and therefore, in order to prevail on the defamation claim, it must show that the former student’s accusations were purposely malicious.
A lawyer for Trump University said the institution would request that a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit reconsider the issue.