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Cohen v. Trump

United States District Court, S.D. California

June 27, 2017

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



         Before the Court are Leeland O. White's (“White's”) “Amended Motion to Set Aside Judgment” and “Amended Motion to Vacate Settlement Agreement and Reverse Denial of Motion to Intervene.” (Dkt. Nos. 311, 315.) Because White is not a party to the case, the Court, out of an abundance of caution, construes White's filings as a motion for reconsideration under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) and a supplemental brief, respectively. Defendants President Trump and Trump University, LLC, (“Defendants”) oppose. (Dkt. No. 319.) Plaintiff and Class Representative Art Cohen (“Plaintiff”) joins Defendants' opposition. (Dkt. No. 320.) 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 motions and VACATES the hearing scheduled for July 14, 2017.


         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 non-compliance with the Civil Local Rules.[3] (Id.)

         White filed an “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.)[4] On March 23, 2017, the Court entered an Order denying White's motion to intervene. (Dkt. No. 303.)

         The Court held a final approval hearing on March 30, 2017. (Low, Dkt. No. 617; Cohen, Dkt. No. 304.) On March 31, 2017, the Court granted the Parties' joint motion for final approval of the Settlement and granted Plaintiffs' motion for approval of class representative awards. (Low, Dkt. No. 618; Cohen, Dkt. No. 305.) Final judgment was entered on the same day. (Low, Dkt. No. 619; Cohen, Dkt. No. 306.)

         White filed the instant motion for reconsideration on May 3, 2017. (Dkt. No. 311.) He subsequently filed a supplemental brief on May 22, 2017. (Dkt. No. 315.) Defendants filed a response in opposition on May 25, 2017, and Plaintiff filed a Notice of Joinder to Defendants' response. (Dkt. Nos. 319, 320.) White filed a reply, nunc pro tunc to June 16, 2017. (Dkt. No. 328.)


         A district court may reconsider a judgment under either Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 59(e) or 60(b).[5] See Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., Or. v. ACandS, Inc., 5 F.3d 1255, 1262 (9th Cir. 1993). Rule 60(b) provides for reconsideration only upon a showing of: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect; (2) newly discovered evidence; (3) fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party; (4) a void judgment; (5) a satisfied or discharged judgment; or (6) any other reason that justifies relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b); see also Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., Or., 5 F.3d at 1263 (quoting Fuller v. M.G. Jewelry, 950 F.2d 1437, 1442 (9th Cir. 1991)). A “party seeking relief under Rule 60(b)(6) must show ‘extraordinary circumstances' justifying the reopening of a final judgment.” Wood v. Ryan, 759 F.3d 1117, 1120 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Gonzalez v. Crosby, 545 U.S. 524, 535 (2005)).

         In addition, Local Civil Rule 7.1(i)(1) provides that a motion for reconsideration must include an affidavit or certified statement of a party or attorney

setting forth the material facts and circumstances surrounding each prior application, including inter alia: (1) when and to what judge the application was made, (2) what ruling or decision or order was made thereon, and (3) what new and different facts and circumstances are claimed to ...

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