Bloomberg Law
March 23, 2016, 9:18 PM

Plaintiff in Trump University Lawsuit Taps Out, Points to Unhealthy Litigation

Casey Sullivan

The lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against Donald Trump’s namesake university is tapping out after getting what she described as an unhealthy dose of the presidential candidate’s legal firepower.

U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego said on Tuesday that he planned to grant the request to drop out of the case made by Tarla Makaeff, who filed the lawsuit in 2010 accusing Trump of misleading her and other students of Trump University into paying thousands for real estate seminars that were essentially of no value.

But the judge’s ruling was conditional and requires that another former Trump University student agree to be questioned by Trump’s lawyers, according to the judge’s ruling.

Chris Dolmetsch of Bloomberg News has the story :

Makaeff’s attorneys say she’s been traumatized by Trump’s litigation tactics and that the prospect of more “mistreatment” at trial was unbearable. Trump’s lawyers says her withdrawal would be unfair as the case edges toward a trial because they’ve built their case on her statements.

That Trump’s lawyers don’t want to let Makaeff withdraw from the case seems backwards on its face, but makes sense since the lawyers have been basing their legal strategy around her involvement over the past six years.

Makaeff argued that her health could be at stake if she continues with the litigation. In her Feb. 8 declaration, via Bloomberg Law , Makaeff explained that shortly after she filed her lawsuit in 2010, Trump University filed a counterclaim alleging defamation and seeking $1 million in damages. Even though the counterclaim was struck, she said the filing caused her “a great deal of anxiety” in the four-year interim because she was concerned it could bankrupt her.

In addition, Makaeff said she was grieving the death of her mother and has continued obligations related to her estate. She added that she has suffered health problems since the case was filed, which she offered to detail in private if necessary.

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 for the toll that the trial would take on my emotional and physical health and well-being.

Lawyers for Trump listed as lead counsel on the docket include Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers and Benjamin Morris of Foley & Lardner, while the lead attorneys for Markaeff include Amber Lee Eck of Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck and Jason Forge of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd.

The lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

In his order, Judge Curiel said that the stage of the 2016 presidential election has changed the dynamics of the case.

“While Makaeff’s request to withdraw at the pre-trial stage is unusual, so is the unforeseen degree of attention this case has engendered at the present stage of litigation,” he said.

“Makaeff has undoubtedly suffered stress as a result of this litigation.”

With assistance from Edvard Pettersson of Bloomberg News.

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