The Weinstein Company and its sister operation in the U.K. have denied any responsibility in a civil suit brought against them by a woman seeking damages for a series of alleged sexual assaults by disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein.
Claims were lodged in Britain’s High Court late last year against New York-based TWC and London-based TWC U.K., and, separately, against Weinstein himself. The plaintiff, whose name has not been released, is seeking damages from both the former Hollywood mogul and from the TWC entities.
The civil suit contends that TWC is “vicariously liable” for assaults that occurred while the plaintiff was working for the company. “Employers have a duty of care to all staff, and if a staff member has abused their position, the employer needs to accept that they placed that member of staff into a position of potential harm,” said Jill Greenfield of law firm Fieldfisher, which is representing the alleged victim.
But lawyers for the Weinstein companies reject this argument in a defense filing seen by Variety. In the document, the Weinstein companies neither admit nor deny the allegations made against Weinstein, and say that, regardless, they bear no responsibility for any such misdeeds on his part. The companies also do not acknowledge whether the plaintiff was contractually employed by them. The filing is signed by Robert Peck, senior vice president and controller of The Weinstein Company.
Weinstein himself has not yet submitted any defense in the case against him.
TWC’s U.K. lawyers, Farrer & Co., declined to comment. Greenfield called the defense filing a “stalling tactic” and an attempt by the Weinstein companies “to wash their hands of any responsibility for his alleged behavior toward staff.”
She said that Farrer & Co. has refused repeated requests for information on TWC U.K.’s liability insurance. She acknowledges that the company is not legally bound to provide these details, but contends that there is a moral obligation to do so.
Fieldfisher wants TWC to set aside a fund to pay Weinstein’s alleged victims if civil claims should prove successful as the company goes through bankruptcy proceedings. The alleged victims are “at the bottom of the list behind all creditors…[and] are being left out in the cold,” Greenfield said, adding: “These companies have made a fortune by employing Harvey Weinstein and should now have the decency to accept responsibility.”
Police on both sides of the Atlantic are investigating assault allegations against Weinstein. London’s Scotland Yard has logged complaints from 10 women alleging 15 separate assaults altogether. The last of these complaints was made in February, and the investigation, known as Operation Kaguyak, continues. No charges have been brought, and Weinstein has denied any instances of non-consensual sex.