The proposed $44 million settlement would be practically halved by attorneys’ fees, most of which would go to Weinstein’s own lawyers.
The film and television company co-founded by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein may be about to settle a big round of lawsuits.
Weinstein, a former co-founder of the Weinstein Co. and Miramax, has been accused by over 100 women of sexual assault and rape. During his long tenure as a film executive, Weinstein purportedly used his influence to coerce aspiring and established actresses into having sex with him. Those who refused were allegedly denied roles and effectively black-listed by Weinstein, who’d disparage the women when and if they sought work with other studios.
The #MeToo movement prompted scores of women to charge Weinstein with rape and coercion, with a wave of litigation following.
After a proposed $90 million settlement between Weinstein’s insurers and victims fell through, attorneys are again signaling that the end may be in sight.
The Associated Press reports that Adam Harris, an attorney for studio co-founder Bob Weinstein, said all parties to the suit are at least in ‘economic agreement’ over the terms of a potential settlement.
“We now have an economic agreement in principle that is supported by the plaintiffs, the AG’s office, the defendants and all of the insurers that, if approved, would provide significant compensation to victims, creditors, and the estate, and allow the parties to avoid years of costly, time-consuming and uncertain litigation on all sides,” Harris told a bankruptcy on Wilmington, Delaware last Thursday.
But the terms of the settlement have been criticized by some. It offers $44 million to victims of the producer’s sex abuse—however, Fox News notes that $14 million may be diverted to Harvey Weinstein’s own lawyers.
Meanwhile, another $8 million would be awarded in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs.
The remainder would be divided among more than 150 women Weinstein allegedly exploited in his tenure as a movie mogul. While pay-outs will likely differ based on claims and merit, most of Weinstein’s victims would receive less than $60,000 each.
“It’s insulting,” one alleged victim said. “It’s particularly insulting that he doesn’t even have to pay his own lawyer’s fees. He gets to walk away without any consequences.”
Harvey Weinstein, notes Fox, isn’t being held financially accountable for any of the settlement: the bill will be footed, in full, by the Weinstein Co. and Miramax’s insurers.
An anonymous source familiar with the settlement negotiations told Fox that Weinstein’s attorneys have been pushing for the settlement to cover their own expenses.
“The defendants are using what could be victim funds to pay their legal fees despite many of them being billionaires,” the source said.
New York attorney Lowell Sidney—who’s not representing anyone involved in the case—told Fox the settlement was unusual.
“It certainly appears to be a tone-deaf settlement, in that wealthy co-defendants were compensated more than actual victims,” Sidney said.
“I’m sure that it’s a kosher settlement where everything was done with the applicable laws and facts,” he added. “However, at first glance, it seems unfair to those who have been subjected to Mr. Weinstein’s unwanted advances.”
Some actresses who claim to have been victimized by Weinstein took to Twitter, saying they won’t be part of the settlement and intend to take the producer to trial.
“My lawsuit against #harveyweinstein is ongoing and I intend to take him to trial,” Ashley Judd tweeted Friday. In a follow-up response, Rose McGowan signaled that she won’t be party to the settlement, either, regardless of whether it’s approved.
As the lawsuit winds down—amidst speculation that settlement talks could again collapse—the Weinstein Co. is continuing to seek bankruptcy.
Criminal charges are also pending against Harvey Weinstein in New York, where he’s been accused of rape and a litany of other sex crimes.