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Lawsuits & Litigation

Women Drop Class Action Against Harvey Weinstein and Company

— March 24, 2021

Three women have dropped a sex trafficking lawsuit against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, three Weinstein victims—identified as Louisette Geiss, Sarah Ann Thomas, and Melissa Thompson—have voluntarily agreed to dismiss their claims against the long-time producer and convicted sexual predator.

The plaintiffs, says the Reporter, had tried to jump-start a class action against Weinstein and individuals who allegedly aided and abetted his misconduct. Not only did they accuse Weinstein and his cohorts of sex trafficking, but they also claimed the producer was involved in a form of sexual racketeering.

However, their effort and ambitions were quickly dashed by a court.

In April of 2019, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein “gutted” the nascent class, rejecting 17 of the lawsuit’s 18 claims—leaving only the plaintiffs’ sex trafficking claims intact.

In the meantime, the Weinstein Co.’s insurers began to work on a settlement plan. It tentatively included up to $17 million in funds for Weinstein’s victims, even as the Weinstein Co. petitioned for bankruptcy.

But the insurance company, notes The Hollywood Reporter, have no power to convince victims to drop their claims against the company.

Instead of trying to support the Weinstein Co.’s legal defense, the insurers offered several plaintiffs the chance to make claims from the victim’s fund in exchange for dropping their lawsuits.

Numerous Hollywood actresses, including Salma Hayek (pictured), have accused Weinstein of using his power within the film industry to coerce sexual favors. Hayek claims she was forced to partake in a nude scene in the movie ‘Frida’ after rejecting Weinstein’s advances. Image via Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara via Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Under the tentative settlement plan, victims would be able to register complaints with the fund. After their complaints are receive, an impartial body would assign each case a certain number of points, which determine an individual victim’s recompense.

While women with active lawsuits would still be eligible to register with the fund, they would only be entitled to 25% of the prospective award.

Interestingly, Geiss, Thomas, and Thompson opted to drop their class action with a caveat—if they do not receive any disbursal from the Weinstein victims’ fund within 120 days, then they reserve the right to resume litigation.

The Recorder notes that many other women still have lawsuits pending against Weinstein and various executives within the Weinstein Co.

Victims, along with victims’ rights advocates, have been critical of the insurers’ proposed settlement, saying it shields high-ranked members of the Weinstein Co.

Weinstein, says USA Today, was sentenced last March to spend 23 years in an upstate New York prison. He remains the only high-profile Hollywood figure to have been indicted and successfully convicted for sexually extorting, harassing, and assaulting women working in the industry.

Last month, Weinstein’s legal team said they were busy preparing an appeal to win their client early release.


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