the saga is over
February 6, 2018

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals finalized Tuesday a $25 million settlement for students who say they were swindled by the now-defunct Trump University.

The settlement can go forward now that the court rejected an appeal by a Florida woman who wanted out of the class-action suit so she could file a separate lawsuit against President Trump.

Students say Trump University promised them they would learn all about Trump's success in real estate and the ins and outs of the industry, but this was false advertisement and they were pushed instead into signing up for several very expensive courses. It started with free workshops, but they were then pressured to enroll in pricey seminars — a "one-year apprenticeship" cost $1,495, while a "membership" was more than $10,000 and "Gold Elite" courses were $35,000, NBC News reports.

Lawsuits were filed in New York and California, and after the 2016 presidential election they were combined into one class action. Trump had said he would fight the lawsuits but settled after the election, and he paid the $25 million judgment last year; it has been held in escrow ever since. The court estimates that students will receive about 80 to 90 percent of what they spent on Trump University classes. Catherine Garcia

November 2, 2016

Gawker founder and former CEO Nick Denton wrote in a blog post that the company has settled its four-year-long legal battle involving Hulk Hogan, a case that ultimately resulted in the bankruptcy and sale of the popular website and blog network. Hogan had sued Gawker claiming that the site's publication of a sex tape with him in it was emotionally damaging. A Florida jury awarded Hogan $140 million in damages earlier this year.

In his post, Denton wrote:

After four years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached. The saga is over.

As the most unpalatable part of the deal, three true stories  —  about Hulk Hogan, the claim by Shiva Ayyadurai that he invented email, and the feud between the founders of Tinder  —  are being removed from the web.

Yes, we were confident the appeals court would reduce or eliminate the runaway Florida judgment against Gawker, the writer of the Hogan story, and myself personally. And we expected to prevail in those other two lawsuits by clients of Charles Harder, the lawyer backed by Peter Thiel. [NickDenton.org]

Denton did not say specifically what the terms were, although documents show Gawker settled with Hogan for $31 million, plus some of the proceeds from Gawker's sale to Univision for $135 million.

Denton added that an "all-out legal war with [Peter] Thiel," the Silicon valley billionaire bankrolling Hogan's lawsuit, "would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight." Thiel, who was outed as being gay by Gawker, told CNBC that "it's less about revenge and more about specific deterrence. I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest." Jeva Lange

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