Some of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers are baulking at a proposed $US30 million ($A43 million) settlement of their harassment claims, which could scuttle the deal.
Lawyers in the Weinstein Company bankruptcy case told Judge Mary Walrath on Thursday that they are close to a global resolution of the civil litigation.
The accusers, their lawyers and various trade creditors of the Weinstein Co would get $US30 million, while another $US14 million would go to lawyers for the Weinstein Co board members, who were defendants in several of the lawsuits.
Those amounts – first reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by Variety – would be paid by the company’s insurers.
However, Variety has learned that other plaintiffs who were part of the negotiations are not satisfied with the proposed settlement amount.
Their refusal to endorse the agreement could undercut the entire deal, if the Weinstein Co insurers are unwilling to reach a resolution that carves out some of the lawsuits and leaves them exposed to further liability.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, plaintiff lawyers Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer blasted the proposed settlement, saying it would provide millions to the Weinstein Co board members and allow Harvey and Bob Weinstein to evade accountability.
Wigdor and Mintzer represent Wedil David, who alleges that Weinstein raped her in 2016.
“Contrary to false media reports, there is no deal to resolve all of the Harvey Weinstein rape and sexual assault cases,” the lawyers said.
“Our client has steadfastly rejected the proposed deal. Sadly, rather than adequately compensate the rape and sexual assault victims of Harvey Weinstein who have
pursued viable legal claims that have been brought within the statute of limitations, the proposed deal would provide millions of dollars to the ultra-wealthy directors of the Weinstein Company, such as James Dolan, and their big firm lawyers.
“It would also allow Harvey Weinstein and the men who enabled him, including his brother, Robert Weinstein, to escape liability and accountability without, apparently, contributing a dime of their own money.
“Our client does not begrudge any victim who accepts a settlement that she finds acceptable. But she will not participate in a process that is fundamentally flawed and unfair.”
Another lawyer who has been involved in the talks, Aaron Filler, said that if Wigdor and Mintzer pull their client out of the deal it may deprive other victims of compensation.
Filler represents actress Paz de la Huerta, who alleges that Weinstein raped her twice.
In a tweet on Friday, actress Ashley Judd said she is not part of the agreement.
— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) May 24, 2019
Judd has accused Weinstein of blacklisting her after she refused a sexual advance. Her case was never part of the settlement discussions, so the fact that her case is going forward does not imperil the deal.
In bankruptcy court on Thursday, lawyer Adam Harris told the judge an agreement had been reached “in principle” to resolve the civil litigation. Harris represents Bob Weinstein, the former chairman of the Weinstein Co.
The proposal provides a sizable payout to the Weinstein Co board members – which some may argue should properly go to Weinstein’s victims. Once lawyers’ fees and payouts to other creditors are deducted, each sexual misconduct plaintiff could end up with a relatively paltry sum.
A civil settlement would not affect Weinstein’s criminal case, which is set to begin in September in Manhattan.