Jury Sides With Trump in Chicago Condo Trial

The jury deliberated for 90 minutes Wednesday and much of the day Thursday before reaching a verdict

A federal jury on Thursday sided with Donald Trump in the case brought by a woman who felt she was cheated in a deal to purchase two units in the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

The jury deliberated for 90 minutes Wednesday and much of the day Thursday when they reached a verdict. Jacqueline Goldberg, 87, of Evanston, Ill., sought various damages totaling around $6 million.

Goldberg herself showed little emotion but her attorney, Shelly Kulwin, slumped over and buried his head on a courtroom table. Trump's attorney Stephen Novack smiled and nodded his head in gratitude at the jury.

In closing arguments, Kulwin told jurors that "Apprentice" star and business mogul Donald Trump lied on the witness stand -- then added he was personally repulsed by him.

"The thought of my grandma being in the same room with that guy. Yuck!" he boomed.

His closing arguments were at times filled with sarcasm, and with his voice rising, he portrayed the case as a battle between a woman who learned her values growing up in the Depression and a powerful businessman. Other countries may ensure the powerful will prevail at trial, he said, "but not here. Not in America."

Goldberg alleged Trump promised her a portion of the revenue if she bought property inside the building, but later reneged on the deal in a bait-and-switch.

But Trump's attorney, Stephen Novack, argued that a clause in the contract that says items are "subject to change by the developer" is key to the case.

"She did agree that my client could make the exact changes that he made," Novack told reporters outside the courtroom. "She tried to change that clause with her lawyer, my client didn't agree, she had 10 days to change her mind and say we don't have a deal. She could have got her earnest money back no questions asked."

Trump, who is from New York, wasn't in court for the closings, but Kulwin displayed a photograph of the beaming developer on a large courtroom.

"The thought of my grandma being in the same room with that guy. Yuck!" said Kulwin, prompting a Trump attorney to object. The judge told jurors to disregard the comment.

Later, he said Trump was motivated to cheat his client by greed.

"It's like his family, those dollars," Kulwin said. "He's in the business of getting, not in the business of giving."

Goldberg told reporters outside the courtroom Wednesday that she didn't want to make it "into a personal feud."

Trump testified for two days last week, saying he couldn't believe Goldberg signed a purchasing contract knowing he had a right to withdraw a profit-sharing deal -- then still sued him. He also denied ever cheating anyone, and later told reporters he was the victim, not her. He declared, "She's trying to rip me off."

But Kulwin told jurors that Trump took the stand "to lie, evade and spout infomercials" about how he built successful buildings. He also mocked Trump for telling jurors he never took notes of business meetings and so couldn't say for sure when certain decisions were made and by whom.

"People who don't want to be found out don't write things down. They're not stupid," he said. "And Donald Trump may be a lot of things -- but he's not stupid."

Kulwin told jurors Goldberg was seeking a total of $6 million in damages.

"Send a message not just to Mr. Trump — but to tell others like him," he said pounding his hand on a podium. "You can say to them, 'These people who do these things have crossed the line."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us