Judge Dismisses Federal Lawsuit Over Trump’s Promotion of Marketing Business

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The claims are now headed towards state court.

The years-long lawsuit alleging former President Donald Trump defrauded individuals in his promotion of a multi-level marketing venture has been dismissed by a federal judge but with the assumption that plaintiffs would bring their claims in state court.

In an order dated Jan. 11, New York District Judge Lorna Schofield dismissed the case “without prejudice to refiling in state court,” noting that it was better suited for courts in California, Maryland, and Pennsylvania where the plaintiffs’ claims fell under state law.

The dismissal came roughly three months after she refused to certify the lawsuit as a class action. In 2019, the Trump Corporation received a partial motion to dismiss causes of action under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which Judge Schofield said were “the only claims arising under federal law.”

She added that 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.”

In a statement provided to The Epoch Times, plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan said the “decision addresses only where – not if – Plaintiffs’ claims should be brought to trial. We intend to continue the fight, and our brave clients look forward to their day in court.”

Filed in 2018, the complaint focused on ACN, which sold telecommunications products, and two other companies. The Trumps pushed for arbitration based on a clause in ACN’s agreement with plaintiffs. The company itself is not a defendant but featured Mr. Trump in its promotional materials. An appeals court ruled that “there is no evidence to suggest that the plaintiffs treated the defendants as if they were effectively parties to the … agreement.”

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Judge Schofield’s order noted that she declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, canceled all court appearances, and denied pending motions without prejudice.

At the court’s invitation, Judge Schofield wrote, the Trump Corporation “moved in substance to have this case litigated in another forum — either in state court by means of the Court’s dismissing and declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims, or by severing the case into three cases and transferring each case to federal court in each Plaintiff’s home state.”

She indicated that sending the cases to three district courts would be inappropriate, stating that doing so “raises concerns due to the lack of clarity over appellate review.”

Trump Wrestles With Many Lawsuits

According to its website, Ms. Kaplan’s firm—Kaplan, Hecker, and Fink LLP— represented Mr. Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, in a lawsuit alleging that the former president and his children attempted to defraud Ms. Trump of a share of her father’s inheritance.

New York is also hosting President Trump’s upcoming trial with Ms. Carroll, his alleged hush-money case involving adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and his civil fraud trial, which just had closing arguments on Jan. 11. Other cases are playing out in D.C., Florida, and Georgia—creating potential legal and logistical hurdles for the presidential campaign season.

President Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment. He has previously decried the ACN case and others as “election interference.”

In October, he declared victory over Judge Schofield’s refusal to certify the case as a class action. “Today we had a Total and Complete Victory against Far Left Lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, on her ridiculous ACN Class Action Suit, yet another Election Interference Case,” he said on TruthSocial.

The Trump Corporation previously filed a motion to dismiss while attempting to distance Mr. Trump from ACN. It argued that the lawsuit “seeks relief for a single class of putative victims – those who paid money to a business Mr. Trump does not own, has never owned, and over whose operations he has never exercised control.”
According to Courthouse News Service, Judge Schofield allowed multiple claims to proceed but rejected federal conspiracy and racketeering charges in the case. The case was headed for trial on Jan. 29.

Three of President Trump’s children—Ivanka, Donald Jr., and Eric—were also named as defendants in the initial complaint brought by Ms. Kaplan. It alleged that the Trumps “conned” four plaintiffs “into giving up hundreds of thousands of dollars—losses that many experienced as devastating and life-altering.”

Judge Schofield signed an order in 2023 releasing the Trump children as defendants but said their depositions and discovery responses could be used in the trial.

The plaintiffs are represented by the same attorney who represented E. Jean Carroll in her successful sexual battery and defamation suit against President Trump.

Judge Schofield’s dismissal was dated the same day as closing arguments in President Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, where he said that he intended to attend Ms. Carroll’s trial, which starts on Jan. 16, and “explain I don’t know who the hell she is.”

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