US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who issued the ruling on Tuesday, said that the preliminary settlement, which was to be distributed equally among dozens of claimants, would be unfair to the women he raped or sexually abused, as it put them on the same level as those he verbally harassed, according to a Reuters report.
On teleconference this morning, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein rejected preliminary approval for an ongoing class action settlement of Harvey Weinstein victims brought by lead plaintiff Louisette Geiss.— JOSH RUSSELL (@jruss_jruss) July 14, 2020
The BBC reports that $15 million of the fund would have gone toward Weinstein’s legal costs, while just $10-15,000 would have been awarded to each claimant.
“The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defense fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Hellerstein said at the hearing, according to Reuters.
The settlement would have put an end to a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General’s Office in 2018 against him, his brother Bob Weinstein and the Weinstein production company, and also a separate class action lawsuit on behalf of Weinstein’s accusers.
Douglas H. Wigdor, an attorney for Weinstein’s accusers, said that for the last year and a half he has stated that the terms of the settlement are “unfair” and “should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors,”
STATEMENT from Douglas H. Wigdor, Kevin Mintzer & Bryan Arbeit, counsel for multiple #HarveyWeinstein survivors:— WigdorLaw (@WigdorLaw) July 14, 2020
“We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors." [1/3]
Wigdor and attorneys Kevin Mintzer and Bryan Arbeit described the Weinstein offer as “the most one-sided and unfair settlement” they have ever seen proposed to a court.
Statement from attorneys for Harvey Weinstein victims who oppose a proposed class settlement as “one-sided and unfair.” They just filed a brief opposing the deal, which is scheduled for a preliminary approval hearing tomorrow morning. pic.twitter.com/h3wNC8G9yW— Tom McParland (@tom_mcparland_) July 13, 2020
Elizabeth Fegan, a lawyer representing nine of Weinstein’s accusers, justified the class-action treatment saying that “all of the women were in the zone of danger,” according to Reuters.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that it will review the court’s decision.
“Our office has been fighting tirelessly to provide these brave women with the justice they are owed and will continue,” a spokeswoman said, cited in Reuters.