CHICAGO — A victorious Donald Trump said his lawyers prevailed at a trial in Chicago over a disputed condo sale at his high-rise luxury hotel because the other side didn’t have any evidence.
“I’m rich and I’m from New York — that’s all they had,” Trump said Thursday in a phone interview after the verdict.
Trump had testified last week at the trial and later accused his 87-year-old legal foe of playing “the age card.”
Jacqueline Goldberg, the Evanston, Ill., woman who said Trump had wronged her, addressed reporters in the lobby of the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse with a smile. She did not express any regrets. “I had to do it,” she said. “I had to try.”
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She also said she felt good about “exposing” Trump and offered this advice for anyone going into business with him: “Read the contract.”
Trump’s attorney, Stephan Novack, said Goldberg’s lawyer tried to turn the court fight into a New York versus Chicago battle involving a famous businessman and TV celebrity.
“We were all confident, but nobody ever knows for sure how a jury is going to decide it,” he said. “There’s no doubt justice was done. It was done in the best possible way. We had eight jurors — all of whom are Chicagoans — none of whom bought into this ‘Let’s hate N.Y.’ And that’s how justice is done.”
Goldberg had claimed the real-estate mogul pulled a fast one by yanking financial incentives after she had plunked down a $500,000 deposit on two condos at Trump International Hotel and Tower.
During closing arguments Wednesday in U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve’s courtroom, Goldberg’s lawyers asked the jury for $6 million in damages.
The six-woman, two-man jury deliberated for 90 minutes Wednesday and a few additional hours Thursday before reaching its verdict and denying any damages.
Goldberg’s attorney, Shelly Kulwin, dropped his head in disappointment as the verdict was announced.
During a nearly 90-minute closing argument Wednesday, Kulwin accused Trump of lying during his testimony at the trial and referred to him as a shrewd businessman whose luxury hotel pulled a “bait and switch” on investors like Goldberg to get money up front for his high-rise project.
Goldberg filed suit after she said the hotel took away key financial incentives after she had deposited her $500,000.
Novack described Goldberg as a sophisticated businesswoman who understood the clause when she signed the deal in 2006. Three years later she refused to close on the deal amid the national real-estate crisis, Novack contended.
“She changed her mind,” he told jurors. “She’s asking for a do-over. We are asking you to hold her to the deal she made.”