At 2:30 pm, Marc Thibodeau was a courageous truth teller. By 4 pm he was a destructive liar.
Closing statements at the Rebecca civil trial this afternoon painted opposing pictures of its former press agent and the musical he represented — and according to its producers, sabotaged.
Andrew Miltenberg, a defense lawyer for Thibodeau, said the publicist acted against his own financial interest in anonymously emailing a prospective investor about a phantom investor and anemic ticket sales. “If you see something, say something,” Miltenberg told the six jurors and two alternates in his summation. “That’s what Mr. Thibodeau did in this case.”
Jonathan Mazer, who represents Rebecca Broadway LP, said Thibodeau’s actions were “a complete betrayal of his objectives as a press agent for Rebecca the Musical.” If there were a Tony Award category for worst email by a press agent, Thibodeau would win, he said.
Tuesday morning at 10 am Judge Jeffrey Oing is scheduled to instruct the jury about the law that applies to the case. Jurors will decide what, if any, damages to award for breach of contract, which Oing already decided in Rebecca Broadway’s favor in 2015. The partnership, owned by Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, is seeking $10.6 million, plus punitive damages. Jurors must also decide on whether Thibodeau committed “tortious [or wrongful] interference with prospective economic relations” and defamed the partnership.
The “verdict sheet” runs 10 pages, which suggests deliberation could take time.
Miltenberg said the prospective investor, Larry Runsdorf, who didn’t testify, might’ve gotten cold feet about Rebecca even without Thibodeau’s email, which was sent on Sept. 28, 2012, under the pseudonym Sarah Finkelstein. The lawyer pointed out that the man learned about Rebecca‘s shortfall from the New York Times, and the paper’s reporting continued to raise questions about the production.
“Maybe he felt the whole thing smelled like rotten fish and decided not to invest,” Miltenberg said. “They couldn’t and didn’t get the funding,” noting that the production had a history of delays.
Mazer said that Runsdorf pulled out shortly after receiving the Finkelstein email. And the first rehearsal wouldn’t have been scheduled, for Oct. 1, 2012, unless the entire $12 million budget was within reach. “They were closing in on the capitalization,” Mazer said.