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A group of women who say they were sexually harassed or assaulted by Harvey Weinstein have been awarded a $19 million settlement as part of a class-action lawsuit.
Variety reports the payment, which is pending a judge's preliminary approval, will resolve a number of civil cases against the disgraced movie producer, his brother Bob Weinstein and the now-defunct Weinstein Company. Plaintiffs accused Weinstein of being a serial sexual predator who created a hostile work environment. They also claim officers and directors at the Weinstein Company were aware of Weinstein's predatory behavior, yet failed to stop and prevent his conduct.
If the $18.875 million payment is approved, it will be used to create a fund for other Weinstein survivors to come forward and make their claims.
Per a press release from FeganScott LLP and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP:
The settlement’s two-tier claim structure allows class members to choose whether, and in how much detail, they want to share their stories.
Tier 1 Claims: Each Settlement Class Member has the option to submit a claim form online or via U.S. Mail, describing the claimant’s experience, the impact, and/or the damages the claimant suffered. If the claimant chooses, they can include documentation in support of the claim form. That claim form will be reviewed by a court-appointed Special Master or designee. Payments of $7,500 to $150,000 may be awarded based on the Special Master’s review and pro rata adjustments.
Tier 2 Claims: Alternatively, each Settlement Class Member may submit a claim form, supporting documentation, and submit to an interview by the Special Master regarding the class member’s experience and the impact of the events. Payments of $7,500 to $750,000 may be awarded based on the Special Master’s review and pro rata adjustments.
"Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company failed their female employees. After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some justice," New York State Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. "For more than two years, my office has fought tirelessly in the pursuit of justice for the women whose lives were upended by Harvey Weinstein. This agreement is a win for every woman who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation by her employer. I thank the brave women who came forward to share their stories with my office. I will forever carry their stories in my heart and never stop fighting for the right of every single person to be able to work harassment-free."
However, not all Weinstein accusers approve of the settlement. Attorneys Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent a half-dozen other women who are separately suing Weinstein, have called the agreement "a complete sellout."
"While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons" the attorneys said in a statement posted on Twitter. "First, Harvey Weinstein accepts no responsibility for his actions. Second, Harvey Weinstein isn’t paying any money toward the settlement despite now having been found guilty in Manhattan criminal court. Third, the director defendants, who we allege had knowledge of Weinstein’s behavior, will be receiving millions of dollars to reimburse their defense costs. Fourth, if this settlement were approved by the courts, survivors who do not wish to participate in settlement but would prefer instead to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, will be unable to purse the multi-billion dollar insurance companies and the directors because they will receive legal releases. And Fifth, the class action lawyers will be seeking millions of dollars in fees for an objectively unsuccessful result. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court."
Weinstein is now serving a 23-year prison sentence for multiple sex crimes. He was convicted of third-degree rape and forcible sexual assault of two women: actress Jessica Mann and a former Project Runway production assistant Mimi Haleyi.