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Cohen v. Trump

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 27, 2017

ART COHEN, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING LEELAND O. WHITE'S MOTION TO INTERVENE [ECF No. 287.]

          Hon. Gonzalo P. Curiel United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Leeland O. White's (“Intervenor's” or “White's”) motion to intervene as of right, entitled “Amended Ex Parte Motion in Right to Intervene and to Object.” (Dkt. No. 287.) Defendants President Donald J. Trump and Trump University, LLC, (collectively, “Defendants”) oppose. (Dkt. No. 291.) Plaintiff and Class Representative Art Cohen (“Plaintiff”) joins Defendants' opposition. (Dkt. No. 292.) White filed a reply. (Dkt. No. 297.) The Court finds the motion suitable for disposition without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). Upon review of the moving papers and applicable law, and for the reasons set below, the Court DENIES White's Motion to Intervene.

         RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         The Court has previously recited the factual background in this case at length and will not reiterate it here. (See, e.g., Dkt. No. 53, Order Granting Motion for Class Certification.) A brief review of relevant procedural background suffices.

         On October 18, 2013, Plaintiff Art Cohen filed a Complaint on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated. (Dkt. No. 1, Compl.) Cohen filed a notice of related case, connecting his lawsuit with Low v. Trump University LLC, Case No. 3:10-cv-00940-GPC-WVG, which was filed on April 30, 2010. (Dkt. No. 3.) On February 21, 2014, the Court certified, in Low, a class of “[a]ll persons who purchased a Trump University three-day live ‘Fulfillment' workshop and/or a ‘Elite' program (‘Live Events') in California, New York and Florida, and have not received a full refund.” (Low, Dkt. No. 298 at 35.)[1] On October 27, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff Cohen's motion to certify a class of “[a]ll persons who purchased Live Events from Trump University throughout the United States from January 1, 2007 to the present.” (Cohen, Dkt. No. 53 at 22.)

         On November 18, 2016, Plaintiffs in Cohen and Low executed a settlement agreement with Defendants, as well as with the New York State Attorney General. (Dkt. No. 279.) The Court granted the parties' Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement on December 20, 2016. (Dkt. No. 282.) The Court set a Final Approval Hearing for March 30, 2017. (Id. at 9.)

         On November 18, 2016, White, proceeding pro se, first attempted to file an ex parte motion to intervene by right.[2] (Dkt. No. 280.) The filing was rejected for failure to comply with the Civil Local Rules. (Id.) White then attempted to file another motion to intervene on January 10, 2017. (Dkt. No. 284.) The filing was rejected, again, for noncompliance with the Civil Local Rules. (Id.)

         White filed the instant Amended Ex Parte Motion in Right to Intervene and to Object, nunc pro tunc to January 19, 2017. (Dkt. No. 287.) On February 6, 2017, Defendants filed an opposition brief. (Dkt. No. 291.) Plaintiff joined Defendants' opposition. (Dkt. No. 292.) White filed a reply, nunc pro tunc to February 17, 2017. (Dkt. No. 297.)[3]

         DISCUSSION

         White requests the Court to, inter alia, compel the Department of Justice to initiate a criminal investigation of Defendants; order the United States to hold a new election on terms satisfactory to him; deny the settlement agreement and conduct a jury trial, unless the amount offered in settlement awards treble damages to the class action plaintiffs, totaling at least $120 million; and delay the presidential inauguration. (Dkt. No. 287 at 1-9.)

         White further alleges the existence of a conspiracy between Defendants, all counsel of record, this Court, and the Clerk of the Court. (See, e.g., Id . at 3-4, 9; Dkt. No. 297 at 3, 5.) In his reply, White, drawing on his perception of various current events and world history, extends the scope of his conspiratorial allegations to encompass topics as myriad as American politics, national and international security, religious ideology, warfare, and other geopolitical developments.

         I. Intervention as of Right

         White cannot establish that he is entitled to intervene as of right. In relevant part, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) provides:

On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who . . . claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect ...

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