Donald Trump may be drowning in legal despair, but he eked out a victory on Friday when a federal judge tossed out a New York case accusing him of suckering investors into a multi-level marketing scheme.
With the real estate tycoon’s long history of cheating unsuspecting marks—with a scammy Trump University, unfulfilled donations to veterans, and many more—it’s easy to forget the one involving a gadget he hawked on TV that turned out to be a dud.
This scandal revolves around the way Trump and his oldest children—Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—used their roles as judges on Celebrity Apprentice to feature a promising investment that glittered like fool’s gold: the seemingly high-tech new “Iris 5srcsrcsrc” video chatting phone. Years later, four aggrieved entrepreneurs sued the family in 2src18, saying the Trumps’ endorsements duped them into throwing money at what turned out to be a multi-level marketing company facing financial turmoil.
The lawsuit seemed promising at first. When the Trumps tried to keep the whole thing under wraps, an appellate court forced the case to be fought in open court rather than private “arbitration” behind closed doors. Then U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield allowed lawyers to review potentially damning, highly guarded, never-before-seen Celebrity Apprentice outtakes.
But it’s been a bumpy road ever since, with a federal judge last year letting Trump’s offspring off the hook and refusing to bulk up the case by giving it class-action status.
The death knell appeared to come on Friday, when Judge Lorna decided that, without any federal issues left in flux, the case should get torn in three and kicked over to three different states.
“The only remaining claims are the common law and statutory claims of three Plaintiffs arising respectively under the laws of California, Maryland and Pennsylvania where they respectively reside, with total out-of-pocket losses said to be roughly $7,srcsrcsrc,” she wrote in her order.
The decision gives Trump a short victory for the long weekend. When courts are back in business on Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the former president starts his second rape defamation trial in New York City—only to face off with the same lawyer behind the pyramid scheme lawsuit, Roberta Kaplan.