The jury in the John Ritter wrongful-death trial heard testimonials Tuesday from his TV co-star, agent, personal assistant and son, who praised the actor as a kind, loving and funny man facing a bright future at the time of his death.
“I loved John,” actress Katey Sagal said, fighting back tears as she briefly testified in Superior Court.
Ritter’s 28-year-old son, Jason, spoke of how much he would miss his father’s advice and support as he moves forward with his own acting career.
The agent, Jessica Pilch-Samuel, said she envisioned a long career ahead for Ritter.
“He was America’s darling,” she said. “He would have done movie after movie. He was back and he was back in a big way.”
When he died on Sept. 11, 2003, Ritter was starring in “8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Sagal played his wife.
Pilch-Samuel said that had the show continued she would have sought a salary of $200,000 to $250,000 per episode for Ritter.
The testimony of the four witnesses was offered to support an enormous damage claim by Ritter’s family — $67 million — from a cardiologist who treated him the night he died and a radiologist who administered a body scan two years earlier.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys claim both doctors were negligent in failing to diagnose an enlarged aorta. Ritter ultimately died of a dissected, or torn, aorta that was misidentified as a heart attack.
The defense contends that the doctors were not at fault and gave Ritter excellent care.
The trial is in its fourth week.
Before testimony began Tuesday, jurors were introduced to Ritter’s daughter, Stella, who came into court briefly. Ritter died on her fifth birthday.
The jurors were also shown notes of encouragement that Ritter sent to son Jason, who was a co-star of “Joan of Arcadia,” while he was in college and for his graduations from high school and college.
“It was a great and intense relationship,” the son said. “He was so much fun. I learned a lot from him. He was a great father and a great teacher.”