Harvey Weinstein is close to a $25 million settlement that would resolve most of the civil litigation against him, including a broad class action case accusing him and his board of directors of a systemic pattern of sexual misconduct.
The general terms of the agreement have been in place for several months, though it has taken time to resolve the details. Under the deal, the insurance companies for the Weinstein Co. would pay the victims with the most serious claims $500,000 apiece. A larger pool of claimants would split the balance of the funds. The deal was first reported by the New York Times.
The deal, which has been hammered out with the assistance of the New York attorney general’s office, must still be approved by the judge overseeing the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy case.
Jeffrey Herman, the attorney for plaintiff Kadian Noble, said that the payout was “largely symbolic.”
“She feels she won just by having a voice and filing her lawsuit,” he said. “For her it really is life-changing that she could do something about it and expose Harvey Weinstein.”
The settlement would resolve a class action suit filed in December 2017, in which 10 plaintiffs alleged that Weinstein had sexually assaulted them. Under the agreement, the court-appointed monitor would distribute $18.5 million to class members and their attorneys. Another $6.2 million would go to 18 plaintiffs who filed suit outside the class action case.
At least four Weinstein plaintiffs are not participating in the agreement, and at least three of them are expected to oppose the deal. Thomas Giuffra, who represents plaintiff Alexandra Canosa, said he would object before the bankruptcy court. He argued that the agreement is being driven by Elizabeth Fegan, the attorney who led the class action case, and that he and other plaintiffs have been pressured to accept the terms.
Giuffra said that Fegan stands to receive a substantial percentage of the payout to the class action claimants, or several million dollars, as part of the deal. Another $12 million will go to the attorneys who defended Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein, and the Weinstein Co. directors in the civil cases.
Giuffra said the insurers will pay Weinstein at least $1 million for legal defense costs. That money would have gone to the non-participating plaintiffs had they opted into the agreement, but instead will be used to fight their claims. The payment allows the insurers to disclaim any further obligation to defend Weinstein.
“That is so morally wrong,” Giuffra said.
Another $7.3 million would go to unsecured trade creditors of the Weinstein Co., which have filed some $250 million in claims against the bankruptcy estate. An additional $2.5 million will go to the estate to pay for its defense in ongoing litigation. The total settlement amount — including payments to accusers, attorneys, and business creditors — is about $46 million.
In a statement to Variety, Fegan defended the settlement.
“Given several courts’ rulings dismissing many of the survivors’ claims and the fact that The Weinstein Company is in bankruptcy, we have fought hard to ensure that the survivors will not be left without recourse,” Fegan said. “Our clients have shouldered a heavy burden, fighting a battle on behalf of all survivors to create a victims’ fund that will be available for every woman who was abused by Weinstein to make a confidential claim.”
Douglas Wigdor, who represents plaintiff Wedil David and an anonymous Weinstein accuser, said he will also oppose the provision releasing the insurance companies from further liability.
“We reject the notion that this was the best settlement that could have been achieved on behalf of the victims,” said Wigdor and his co-counsel, Kevin Mintzer, in a statement. “It is shameful that $12 million of the settlement is going to the lawyers for the directors who we alleged enabled Harvey Weinstein and it is even more outrageous that the proposed settlement will seek to bind non participating members by providing a release to the insurance companies and the directors of the Weinstein Company itself. While we don’t begrudge victims who want to settle, we plan to vigorously object to any provision that tries to bind victims who want to proceed with holding Harvey Weinstein accountable for his actions which is exactly what we intend to do.”
Ashley Judd, who has filed a sexual harassment and retaliation claim against Weinstein, is also not part of the settlement agreement. Rose McGowan, who filed a civil RICO case against Weinstein and his lawyers in October, is also not part of the settlement.
Much of the civil litigation has been put on hold as terms of the agreement have been ironed out, and in light of Weinstein’s upcoming criminal trial.