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Judge Refuses to Pause Weinstein Class Action Case

A judge on Tuesday denied Harvey Weinstein’s request to put a class action lawsuit on hold pending the outcome of his criminal trial.

Ten women have sued Weinstein in federal court in the Southern District of New York, accusing him of violating the federal sex trafficking statute. The suit also alleges that an array of Weinstein Co. board members and employees helped facilitate his conduct, amounting to a racketeering enterprise. In November, Weinstein’s attorneys asked Judge Alvin Hellerstein to pause the case, arguing that he would have to assert his 5th Amendment right not to incriminate himself if deposed.

Hellerstein rejected that motion Tuesday, allowing the case to proceed. Weinstein is set to file a motion to dismiss by Jan. 28, and a hearing on the motion is set for the afternoon of March 7, the same day that Weinstein is due in state court on his criminal case.

Hellerstein has already dismissed the class action once, ruling in September that it did not adequately state its claims. The judge allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint, which they did.

The judge on Tuesday also denied a plaintiffs’ motion to prevent the disclosure of emails between Weinstein and his accusers. Weinstein’s lawyers obtained the emails through the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy process, and have sought permission to use them in defending him in his criminal and civil cases. Hellerstein had earlier issued a protective order requiring Weinstein’s lawyers to consult with the plaintiffs’ attorneys before disclosing any emails, but the judge declined the plaintiffs’ request to extend the order.

Update: Elior Shiloh, Weinstein’s counsel in the civil case, says the judge ruled that a stay is premature because discovery is not underway:

“Judge Hellerstein stated to Mr. Weinstein’s counsel that the motion for stay was premature in light of the pending motions to dismiss the Amended Complaint. Judge Hellerstein asked Mr. Weinstein’s counsel to file any motion to dismiss by January 28. While the motion is marked denied, the Judge did not actually rule on the merits of the motion to stay. It was clear that Judge Hellerstein was not willing to get into the merits of a stay as the case is only at the pleading stage and could very well be dismissed in the coming months.”

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