31.07.2021

Judge rejects proposed $19m settlement

Elizabeth Fegan, a lawyer representing nine Weinstein accusers, has argued that “all of the women were in the zone of danger” created by Weinstein, justifying class-action treatment.

Some of the women who have come forward against Weinstein have defended the proposed settlement on social media. But the settlement also drew objections from women who said it would leave Weinstein’s alleged victims with typical awards of just $10,000 to $20,000, while setting aside $15.2m for defence costs.

A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who announced the tentative agreement on 30 June, said her office is reviewing the decision and determining its next steps. “Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue to do so,” Morgan Rubin said in a written statement.

A judge has dismissed a proposed $19m (£14.8m) settlement for women who allege Harvey Weinstein subjected them to misconduct.

US District Judge Alvin K Hellerstein said on Tuesday that Weinstein’s accusers in the proposed class-action settlement were too varied to be grouped together.

​He also criticised a plan to set aside money to help Weinstein and the board of his former studio pay defence costs.

“The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defence fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Mr Hellerstein said at a hearing.

Lawyers for several women who had opposed the deal praised what they described as Mr Hellerstein’s swift rejection of a one-sided proposal.

The deal to settle lawsuits brought by James and a Chicago lawyer on behalf of multiple women would have provided between $7,500 and $750,000 to some women who accused Weinstein of sexually abusing them.

The 68-year-old former Hollywood producer was convicted earlier this year of third-degree rape and a criminal sex act. His lawyers have said they intend to appeal the conviction. Weinstein is facing more charges in Los Angeles.

Accusations by dozens of women in 2017 led to the downfall of his career and gave rise to #MeToo, the global movement to hold powerful men accountable for their misconduct.

Weinstein was diagnosed with the coronavirus in March, just days after he was moved to New York State’s maximum security Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo to begin serving his 23-year prison sentence.

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