A fraud claim against Trump University by New York's attorney general can proceed following a state appeals court's ruling on Tuesday, days after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump defended his for-profit education program on the campaign trail.
The decision by the court in Manhattan could make it easier to find the Trump venture liable for fraud because the civil claim does not require proof of intent, according to a spokesman for state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The court ruled on a lawsuit filed in 2013 by Schneiderman accusing Trump and his program of misleading thousands of people nationwide who paid as much as $35,000 to learn the billionaire businessman's real estate investment strategies.
Trump's critics, including Republican presidential rival Marco Rubio of Florida, have leveled attacks on Trump University, alleging false marketing for the venture.
Schneiderman said in a statement, "Today's decision is a clear victory in our effort to hold Donald Trump and Trump University accountable for defrauding thousands of students."
The statement said that New York looked forward to demonstrating in court that "Trump and his sham for-profit college defrauded more than 5,000 consumers out of millions of dollars."
The Trump Organization's general counsel, Alan Garten, said the ruling would be appealed, and called the case "politically motivated."
"We think all these claims are without merit and baseless," Garten said. "Ninety-eight percent of those who participated in the programs filled out written surveys giving the programs the highest grades."
(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)