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Robert De Niro, 80, has proved victorious in his civil trial in New York against his former personal assistant, Graham Chase Robinson, who accused the Hollywood actor of gender discrimination.
It was an emotional trial – with the star admitting to raising his voice at Graham while calling her names – and a civil jury has now found De Niro not liable for gender discrimination and retaliation against Robinson.
However, the actor’s business and personal services company, Canal, was ordered to pay her $1.2 million (£980,000) in damages, per Deadline.
The jury also cleared Robinson of any financial wrongdoing in her 11 years as an employee for the two-time Oscar-winning star.
De Niro was not in the courtroom on Thursday, but Robinson was and she smiled and hugged one of the two women on her legal team after the four-woman, three-man jury delivered its verdict.
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Robinson’s lawyer, Brent Hannafan, said that his client would have no immediate comment on the outcome.
However, he told reporters outside the courtroom that “she feels vindicated.”
He said: “It’s not a split decision at all. We are thrilled by the jury’s verdict. More important, the jury saw what Ms. Robinson saw.”
Robinson will be awarded a specific amount of $632,142.86 for each count.
Hannafan said he didn’t know the basis for the number but said that Robinson had been making $300,000 (£246,000) annually when she quit in 2019 and that roughly 4½ years had elapsed since then.
Robinson’s original lawsuit against De Niro sought $12 million (££9,770,000).
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Richard Schoenstein, a lawyer for De Niro and Canal, said of the jury: “Obviously, they got it right as to Mr. De Niro, that’s for sure. So that’s gratifying.”
He added: “It strikes me as a compromise verdict,” with the jury reading the case as “a dispute between an employee and her former employer,” meaning Canal.
“They were seeking $12 million, and they got $600,000,” he said, contending that the $1.2 million award could be halved by the judge in the event of further legal proceedings.
“Mr. De Niro was found not at fault at all,” he said.
But as Robinson’s lawyers noted throughout the nine-day trial: “Canal is De Niro, and De Niro is Canal.”
He owned the company and had final say on all its dealings.
De Niro himself said as much on the stand, though he testified that he left many decisions to the firm’s handful of employees, including Robinson, because he trusted them.
Canal operates separately from De Niro’s film production and film festival operations.
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The Oscar winner’s legal battle with Graham began in August 2019 when Canal sued her for millions after she allegedly misused funds for personal expenses.
The company accused her of spending tens of thousands of dollars on the company’s American Express card and approving fake business trips that she used to pay for her social life.
Graham was also accused of personally using about $125,000 worth of frequent flyer miles, charging $32,000 worth of personal Uber and taxi rides, $8,923 in groceries, and $3,000 at a New York City florist, which included a $1,311 arrangement for her birthday.
She then handed Canal Productions a $12 million lawsuit in return for workplace and sexual harassment, plus sexism.
Graham began working at the company in 2008 and acted as the Vice President of Production and finance before she abruptly quit in April 2019.
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