Billionaire Donald Trump is used to running the show, whether it be in business or on television, and his penchant for full control made for an interesting few days in Judge Amy St. Eve’s Chicago courtroom last week.
Trump is a key witness in a lawsuit brought by 87-year-old real estate investor Jacqueline Goldberg, who is suing him, alleging that after she bought two million-dollar hotel rooms in Trump’s Chicago hotel and condo complex in 2006, he unilaterally changed the terms of the contract, thus depriving her of revenue she expected to receive from the ballroom business and valet parking receipts.
Judge St. Eve, who also presided over the trial of Lord Conrad Black, chastised Mr. Trump and Ms. Goldberg’s lawyer, Shelly Kulwin, for their incessant sparring, noting they had turned her courtroom into a boxing ring.
Lawyer Kulwin objected to Trump’s filibustering which he described as egotistical infomercials for Trump’s real estate empire. Kulwin’s impatience with Trump was marked by eye-rolling and heightened vocal volume on his part.
Mr. Trump’s testimony was vague on the details of Ms. Goldberg’s purchase, however, he confirmed that his executives managed all sales transactions and that he looked after the “big picture”, saying “I don’t run hotels, I build them”.
As for Ms. Goldberg’s bait-and-switch allegation, Trump testified that the contract clearly contemplated the possibility of a change in the profit-sharing scheme and noted that Ms. Goldberg had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the deletion of this clause from the contract. When Trump exclaimed “This is a disgrace. She’s trying to rip me off”, the judge admonished the jury to ignore Mr. Trump’s outburst.
Outside the courtroom Mr. Trump was even sassier, suggesting that Goldberg had “buyer’s remorse” and was using the “age-card” against the younger Trump.
The irrepressible Trump left the courthouse after a long day of cross-examination, only stopping to charm a throng of reporters by calling out, “I love Chicago!”
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang