When he testified earlier in the trial, Robert De Niro called his former assistant's claims "nonsense"
After nearly five hours of deliberations Thursday, a jury in New York City federal court found the actor, 80, not personally liable, though his company Canal Productions was found liable for gender discrimination and retaliation against Robinson, 41, according to Associated Press and Deadline.
The jury ordered Canal to pay $1.26 million in damages to Robinson.
A member of Robinson's legal team, David Sanford, chairman of Sanford Heisler Sharp, said in a statement, “We are delighted that the jury saw what we saw and returned a verdict in Chase Robinson’s favor against Robert De Niro’s company, Canal Productions."
"Not only did Ms. Robinson win her case against Canal but the jury completely vindicated Ms. Robinson by finding De Niro’s claims against her to be without merit," he added.
A rep for De Niro had no comment.
In his previous testimony during the two-week trial, De Niro had called Robinson's claims "nonsense."
De Niro and Canal Productions sued Robinson in 2019 over alleged improper spending during her 11 years of employment with the company. Robinson also sued De Niro and Canal Productions for alleged violations of the New York City Human Rights Law.
The trial featured testimony from De Niro and Robinson themselves, as well as from De Niro's girlfriend Tiffany Chen. A number of text messages shared between the Goodfellas actor and Chen, who have been dating since 2018 and welcomed daughter Gia Virginia this past spring, were also displayed as evidence.
Canal Productions general counsel Tom Harvey and De Niro's accountant Michael Tasch also testified during the trial, as well as a number of employees who worked with Robinson at Canal between 2008 and 2019.
The trial opened with De Niro's testimony on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, in which he admitted he had called Robinson names during her employment with Canal.
“Yeah, fine, I berated her,” he testified, in response to inquiries about a time Robinson didn’t wake him in time for a meeting. He then agreed he might have called her “petulant,” “snippy” and a “f----ing spoiled brat.”
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The Oscar winner also claimed that Robinson stole 5 million Delta SkyMiles from him during her employment, which he said have never been returned.
Chen took the stand on Nov. 2, and spoke to the period of time she knew Robinson during her final months of employment with Canal Productions in 2018 and 2019.
A number of text messages displayed during the trial showed that Chen believed Robinson held an "imaginary intimacy" toward De Niro, which she agreed with on the stand years later. Speaking on Robinson’s conduct when De Niro wasn’t around, Chen said it was a “complete flip": “When he’s not in the room, [it's a] Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [situation].... When Bob’s not there, she has another face.”
"[Tiffany] might have been saying stuff because she was annoyed, but she was annoyed because Robinson was disrespectful to her. Period. And that is unacceptable," De Niro said during his testimony, when asked whether Chen ever told him it felt like Robinson was living with the couple during her employment with Canal.
Robinson testified on Nov. 3 and 4, describing working for De Niro as an executive assistant as a constant "on-call" responsibility.
"Sometimes I would e-mail him, and he couldn't find the e-mail, and he would [call] yelling and screaming saying, 'I didn't receive it,' when he did," she told the court. "When he got frustrated, when he couldn't find his driver. There are various different reasons why he would get angry."
In closing arguments Wednesday, Robinson's attorney Brent Hannafan told the court De Niro and Chen's actions toward Robinson indicated she was discriminated against due to her gender.
"Would Mr. De Niro have called her a bitch, would he have asked her to scratch his back, would Ms. Chen have been jealous, would Ms. Chen have said, 'That's very Single White Female.' Would any of those things have happened if she were a man? Of course not," he said. "Of course not. She was retaliated against because she had protected activity."
Meanwhile, De Niro's attorney Richard C. Schoenstein argued that the notion Robinson was a "loyal employee" during her time at Canal "chutzpah."
"Ladies and gentlemen, when she left this company, she took out the entire vegetable drawer and dumped it into her bag. She left this company with all the rides, all of the meals, all of the petty cash, everything she had taken."
"She left with payment for vacation days she supposedly didn't take ... and when she was asked to return everything, the only thing she sent back was a lawsuit," he said. "That's it. That's what they got back. They got back a lawsuit, and they want to tell you that Canal and Mr. De Niro were due something improper to her."
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