People with lots of money are often the targets of lawsuits, but even for a billionaire, Donald Trump has been sued a shocking amount.
He’s been named as a defendant in at least 169 federal lawsuits, according to a LawNewz.com investigation. Some of the cases have been resolved, some were dismissed as frivolous, and others were privately settled—despite Mr. Trump’s frequent boasts on the campaign trail that he doesn’t settle lawsuits. He’s been sued by celebrities, personal assistants, prisoners, people in mental hospitals, unions, and wealthy businessmen, according to the report.
- In 1983 a construction crew contended that Mr. Trump cheated workers out of at least $300,000 in contributions to its benefit funds by secretly employing nonunion workers during the building of Trump Tower.
- The U.S. Department of Justice sued Trump for an antitrust violation in 1988 and won. Trump was forced to pay $750,000.
- In 1990 Donald Trump was named as a defendant in 21 different lawsuits. Most stemmed from Mr. Trump’s corporation filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from creditors following the building of the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. By 1991, the resort was nearly $3 billion in debt, according to the New York Times.
- In the late 1990s, a Florida woman filed a $125 million lawsuit alleging that in 1993 Trump sexually harassed her and pulled out of a deal when she didn’t respond to his advances. Trump denied the claims, and the case was eventually withdrawn.
- A New Hampshire man, upset he didn’t appear on Trump’s reality show The Apprentice, sued for allegedly discriminating against an older contestant. The 51-year-old withdrew his lawsuit after entering into a settlement agreement, according to Law 360.
- A college student filed a lawsuit against Trump’s profit seeking college, Trump University, and a federal judge eventually ordered the school pay $798,000 in legal fees, according to Courthouse News. The student claimed the university and Trump engaged in deceptive practices, and that the seminars were nothing more than infomercials. Trump’s name was eventually dropped from the suit.
- In 2013, the New York AG sued Trump for $40 million saying he helped run a phony school — Trump University — which made false claims and steered students towards useless seminars.
These are some of the federal claims. Most lawsuits filed by civil litigators like me are brought in state court, and no word as of now on how many state claims have been litigated against Mr. Trump. My educated guess would be hundreds more.
The trouble with Trump U
The fraud allegations arising out of the now-defunct Trump University, marketed to educate laypeople about how to get rich in real estate investing, have been particularly damaging. Since 2005 he’s been on the receiving end of at least three cases on behalf of thousands of students in California, New York and Florida, claiming (after paying tens of thousands of dollars in some cases) that they were lied to with phony marketing ploys. One was brought by the New York Attorney General.
Trump U, it turns out, wasn’t an accredited “school” and in 2010, the New York Department of Education demanded that the name Trump University be changed. Trump University was renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative. In 2014, a New York trial court found Trump University and Trump himself liable for running an unlicensed school. He was ordered to pay $800,000 in attorneys’ fees to one of his the Trump U plaintiffs after his defamation claim against her was unsuccessful. More substantial judgments and penalties appear to be on the way.
Mr. Trump maintains that he has done nothing wrong, but with this much smoke, the possibility of fire is hard to dismiss.
Meanwhile, if you’re a business owner who would rather avoid litigation, consider getting some advice from a business attorney in your area.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.