Dr Kimberly Resnick told jurors that Graham Chase Robinson, 41, suffers from an ‘inflated sense of self-esteem’ and ‘sees harm where there isn’t’ – and that these traits skew her ‘perception of the world’.
The doctor challenged the analysis of Robinson’s team’s psychiatrist, Dr Robert Goldstein, who said Tuesday that she suffered with ‘generalized anxiety disorder’ and ’emotional distress’ linked to her employment at De Niro’s Canal Productions.
Dr Resnick, who serves as chief of forensic psychiatry at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in NY, said she spent seven hours speaking with Robinson over Zoom and analyzed her medical records.
She spoke before closing arguments from both sides began on Wednesday, which De Niro’s lawyers described as the ‘end of the movie’ and which the Oscar-winning actor turned up to see.
Graham Chase Robinson leaves court Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, her character was torn apart by a psychiatrist hired by her former employer Robert De Niro
Doctor Kimberly Resnick said she believed Robinson to be suffering from narcissism and paranoia while on the stand on behalf of De Niro’s legal team Wednesday
De Niro did not respond to questions about how he felt the trial was going from Daily mail.com as he left the Manhattan Federal Court.
Under cross-examination by De Niro’s lawyers, Dr Resnick said she ‘identified there to be traits of narcissism, paranoia and grandiosity’ in Robinson’s personality – though she stopped short of saying she would diagnose her with any related disorders.
Robinson is suing the Oscar-winning actor for $12 million for alleged gender discrimination, claiming he made her do stereotypically female work while paying her less than male colleagues, and made ‘creepy’ requests for her to scratch his back.
The Taxi Driver star has denied her claims and is counter-suing for $6 million, saying Robinson misused company benefits by harvesting five million air miles for her personal holidays just before she left.
On Wednesday, Dr Resnick told the court that Robinson’s ‘perception’ was that she was being ‘targeted’ by people in her workplace, and ‘blacklisted’ by new employers after she left Canal.
The doctor said she believed this ‘perception’ – which she described as ‘spin’ at one point – was causing Robinson’s ’emotional distress’ rather than her alleged treatment in the workplace.
Challenging Robinson’s generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis, Dr Resnick added: ‘I observed some symptoms of anxiety in Miss Robinson, but I did not find it reached clinical diagnosis of a psychological disorder’.
She added that she felt Robinson’s back problems and her gerd – a reflux condition – were what was causing her sleepless nights while she worked for the star, rather than an anxiety disorder.
Robinson, who’s suing her former employer for $12 million, was described as a paranoid narcissist by a doctor who’s in line for a $90,000 payment from De Niro for giving her expert advice
Dr Resnick said Robinson’s medical records showed she suffered with ‘anxiety’ as early as 2016 and that doctors recommended she take therapy sessions at that point – but Robinson did not start seeing a psychiatrist until after she left Canal.
‘There was a recommendation that she seek treatment (in 2016). But it wasn’t until seven years later that she did seek therapy – after the initiation of this lawsuit,’ Dr Resnick told the court.
The psychiatrist added that she believed Resnick suffered from critogenesis – which is ‘harm or emotional harm coming from the act of undergoing a lawsuit’.
‘Miss Robinson mentioned the lawsuit in almost every therapy session,’ Dr Resnick said.
‘This is an adversarial component of life that can be very traumatizing.
‘Usually the events discussed in court are emotionally charged, and to have other people aware of that can be humiliating and it can be isolating.’
Under cross-examination by Robinson’s lawyer Andrew Macurdy, Dr Resnick admitted that she is likely to receive a paycheck of $90,000 from De Niro’s team for her part in the trial.
On Tuesday, Robinson’s team’s psychiatrist Dr Goldstein diagnosed her with generalized anxiety disorder linked to her employment at Canal.
The practicing psychiatrist said Robinson suffered from the ‘serious and often disabling psychological condition’ after evaluating her in January 2019, and reviewing more than three years worth of medical records.
He said she suffered with symptoms like insomnia and memory loss, and ‘experienced a good deal of psychological pain and emotional discomfort’ which began while she was employed by De Niro.
When asked what the trigger for this mental condition was, he said: ‘Her perceptions of being discriminated against and retaliated against on her job.’
De Niro is pictured leaving Manhattan Federal Court on November 2 after giving evidence
Robinson also told the court she was ‘really scared’ to speak out about alleged gender discrimination at De Niro’s company because she ‘feared what he would do’ in retaliation.
She held a tissue to her face and appeared emotional as she said she also worried no one would believe her word against the 80-year-old Hollywood actor’s.
On Wednesday, the court also heard from De Niro’s longtime personal trainer Dan Harvey, 63, who has also run lines with the actor ahead of filming for the past 40 years.
Under cross-examination from De Niro’s team, Harvey confirmed he was on a wage of $290,000 at the time Robinson left with her salary of $300,000.
Harvey said he has been a full-time trainer for De Niro since 1985, that he spent two to seven hours with the actor for around 330 days a year and had to travel with him to film locations around the world.
He told the court De Niro’s training sessions with him started as early as 3.30am on filming days, and that his responsibilities went well beyond the physical training.
Harvey said he was expected to memorize De Niro’s scripts so that he could play the other characters as they ran lines while the actor paced on the treadmill.
‘When Mr De Niro walks in at literally 3.30am, he starts walking to me, he’s starting the first scene on the day and he starts cueing me and I start on the next line and there’s not a minute to waste’, the Long Island-born trainer told the court.
Harvey said there was very little ‘chit chat’ and they packed in the rehearsals.
He also recalled training De Niro for the 1991 film Cape Fear, where the actor played a newly-released prisoner who had spent his days in jail training relentlessly in the gym.
Harvey’s rehearsal responsibilities with De Niro even developed to the point where the actor asked a director to allow the him to play an off-screen part during a phone call scene in the 2008 film Just What Happened, because he liked the way they had practiced.
Robinson began working for Canal in 2008, having started out as an executive assistant on a $75,000 salary, before rising to the role of vice president of production and finance on a $300,000 wage at the time of her departure in April 2019.
Her mother, Andrea Robinson, told the court on Tuesday that she often worked from her home for the actor from 6am until 2am the next day, and that she grew increasingly ‘tearful’ and ‘stressed’ towards the end of her employment.
De Niro’s girlfriend Tiffany Chen (pictured together) has been at the center of the trial’s proceedings, as it was suggested in closing arguments that Robinson’s allegations amount to a clash of personalities with the actor’s ‘colorful’ partner
In his closing arguments on Wednesday, attorney Richard Schoenstein described the final day of the trial as the ‘end of a movie’, as his client De Niro turned up at the courthouse to watch the closing scene.
De Niro wore a face covering and sat directly behind his former assistant Robinson, each flanked by their team of attorneys on the front benches.
‘Welcome to the end of the movie… “employee finds job stressful but can never walk away”,’ Schoenstein scoffed.
‘Miss Robinson resigns and wants to be paid two years of salary, but when she can’t get that, she ends up bringing claims in court.
‘This movie is almost over, but here’s the surprise part – you get to decide how it ends.’
Schoenstein described how Robinson allegedly pursued a ‘cycle’ of planning to leave Canal on several occasions during her last few years up to her final departure in 2019 – despite ‘whopping’ salary increases up to a final figure of $300,000.
He accused her of ‘sweeping every last air mile from the company account into her own’ in the weeks before she left.
Schoenstein added that her gender discrimination claim ‘comes down to back scratches and the B word’ De Niro occasionally cursed at her.
‘Having somebody use the B word in frustration a handful of times over the years is not a big deal, especially when the evidence shows you engage in the same kind of language yourself,’ the attorney said.
‘I know all too well that victims of discrimination don’t speak up right away.
‘But you have to consider the totality of the circumstances.’
Schoenstein argued that Robinson merely experienced a clash of personalities with De Niro’s ‘colorful’ girlfriend Chen – and claimed the ‘idea of gender discrimination did not come up until lawyers got involved.’
‘Gender discrimination is unfortunately still alive and well in this country, but we have got to be able to distinguish between real gender discrimination and what happened here,’ he told the jury.
In closing arguments, the allegations set out by Robinson were slated as coming down to ‘back scratches and the B word’ that De Niro occasionally cursed at her
Brent Hannafan, representing Robinson, contested in his closing statement that she was scared to leave De Niro’s company because of his formidable influence.
‘She was afraid that without a recommendation from one of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry, what chance would she have of getting a job?’ he said.
‘It turns out her fears were accurate. She hasn’t had a job in four years.’
Hannafan added that De Niro permitted use of company air miles on personal trips, and that the Taxi Driver star said ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t recall’ 140 times during his testimony.
On the question of gender discrimination, Hannafan asked jurors to consider whether De Niro would have called Robinson a bitch if she were a man.
‘Would he have asked her to scratch his back, would Tiffany Chen have been jealous of her, and would she have described her as “very white single female” if she was a man?’ Hannafan added.
‘I ask that you find in her favour and award her significant damages due to the significant harm she has suffered.
‘We believe significant damages would be seven figures, possibly eight figures, but we leave it to you and your discretion to come to that conclusion.’
He repeated Robinson’s words on the witness stand about her reflections on her time as De Niro’s top assistant.
‘I lost my life, I lost my career, I have lost my independence, I have lost everything,’ she said previously.
The jury – five women and three men – will receive directions from the Judge on Thursday morning before being sent out to decide how the trial ends.