A Manhattan civil jury found in favor of Robert De Niro’s former assistant Thursday, ordering his film company Canal to pay her more than $1.2 million for her gender discrimination and retaliation claims.
De Niro was not found liable for damages. His counter-claim against the woman, Chase Robinson, was dismissed.
“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,” her attorney, David Sanford, said in a statement. “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.”
De Niro had sued his longtime personal assistant first, in a preemptive strike against her claims that he made her do demeaning domestic tasks, including inappropriate things like helping him button his shirts and scratching his back; she sought a $12 million jury prize. His suit, seeking $6 million, alleged she would regularly slack off on the job and stole airline miles from his company.
De Niro testified last week on his own behalf, becoming agitated and testy under questioning from Robinson’s lawyer – and at one point, addressing Robinson directly and saying: “Shame on you, Chase Robinson!” He apologized on the spot, but did not appear in court again.
When Robinson took the stand later last week, she cited the outburst as an example of his verbal abuse. Richard Schoenstein, De Niro’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Robinson was given the title of vice president of production and finance at De Niro’s imprint Canal Productions, though De Niro had testified that her duties never changed after the promotion that paid her $300,000 per year. Her 2019 lawsuit was in response to a previous action De Niro filed accusing her of embezzlement, stealing frequent-flyer miles and spending excessive amounts of time watching “Friends” on Netflix while on the job.
Jurors heard eight days of testimony in what was originally supposed to be a two-week trial. Witnesses included De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen, who butted heads with Robinson over a townhouse redecoration and other domestic matters.
Chen said she believed Robinson was romantically interested in De Niro and “wanted to be the lady of the house.” Robinson, 41, denied under oath having any interest in the 80-year-old actor.
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