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State of New York v. Trump University: Trump Wins This Round

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Friday, Judge Cynthia S. Kern of the Supreme Court of New York issued a mixed ruling on the $40 million fraud lawsuit against Donald Trump and Trump University stemming from student dissatisfaction with real estate educational seminars. In the decision, Kern ruled that several of the alleged instances of fraud had passed their statute of limitations. Some of the fraud accusations were decided to have a longer statute of limitations and allowed to proceed in court, though. 

It's not over yet, but I think that the first round in this lawsuit has gone to Trump.

The judge's decision dealt a blow to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who sued Trump and his namesake business, Trump Entrepreneur Initiative (formerly Trump University) for fraud.

The latest legal ruling reduces the number of students eligible to pursue the case. Sources tell me that it will be extremely difficult -- if not impossible -- for the few remaining students to prevail, and those who continue will be forced to meet a far more difficult set of standards.

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A source further suggests that the $40 million price tag has now been watered down to less than $40,000.

Trump's lawyer, Alan Garten, told Business Insider that "the judge's ruling will require each student to come to New York to testify 'why they are seeking a refund when 98% of all students previously filled out written report cards giving the school high marks and stating that they were completely satisfied with the program.'"

To me, it looks like Schneiderman has squandered millions of taxpayer dollars to pursue claims that lack merit and are going nowhere.

Judge Kern validates the points that I made a few months ago when I reported that the lawsuit is "likely targeted by people who want all of the glory without getting into the trenches." I wrote, "The lawsuit seems foolish and unfounded. I see no basis for the arguments that students were oversold or duped." Another one bites the dust.

Meanwhile, Trump is putting the pedal to the metal (and leaving the dust behind), with over $1 billion of development projects either underway or in the pipeline. On Thursday he is celebrating the grand opening of the Blue Monster Golf Course at Trump National Doral Miami, a multi-million dollar transformation of the iconic golf club and home of the Cadillac Championship (played from March 6 to March 9). Also, Trump is redeveloping the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., into a luxurious Trump Hotel Collection property. Another Trump Hotel Collection property is being built in Vancouver.

Last week Trump announced a Trump Hotel Collection project in Rio de Janeiro, located in the posh Jardim Oceanico sub-district of the famous Barra da Tijuca borough. Trump Rio, a 13-story, 171-guestroom property, will be the first Trump property in South America and the only luxury hotel in the area when it opens in 2016.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

Brad Thomas has over 25 years of experience in commercial real estate and he is the editor of The Intelligent REIT Investor. He is also a contributing writer for TheStreet and numerous other financial and investment websites.

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