Litigation » Army of Lawyers, 2 Years Of Negotiation, But Judge Calls Deal Weinstein “Unconscionable” and Throws It Out

Army of Lawyers, 2 Years Of Negotiation, But Judge Calls Deal Weinstein “Unconscionable” and Throws It Out

July 30, 2020

Back view of a young judge

A $19 million settlement fund for the women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct fell apart days after it was announced. Eriq Gardner, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, notes that the deal involved attorneys at some of the biggest law firms in America, sophisticated insurers, the top law enforcement official in New York, and it couldn’t even get past the preliminary stage of a federal judge’s review. He suggests that the reason dates back to the months after journalists first detailed Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior. Those revelations led to a flood of lawsuits consolidated into a putative class action against Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Co. and its board members. At the time there was too little examination of the feasibility of pursuing an individual’s history of sexual abuse in a class action, the type of suit that most often focuses on defective consumer goods. A year later a district court judge rejected all but one of 18 claims and severed other corporate entities and individuals from the case because the plaintiffs failed to show that they had assisted, supported or facilitated sex trafficking. This emboldened insurers, and led to the concessions that prompted the judge to call the settlement unconscionable” and obnoxious. That level of criticism is rarely heard in courtrooms, and one lawyer is quoted as calling it a signal to negotiators to put the victims first.

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