There has been a flood of sexual harassment and sexual assault accusers come forward against Harvey Weinstein over the past month since the New York Times published its October 5 expose on the Oscar winning producer’s decades long alleged predatory behavior. A more than $5 million class action lawsuit filed today in federal court could turn that flood into a legal tsunami for Weinstein, the Weinstein Company, lawyer David Boies, Miramax and others who actively participated in what is being called the “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise.”
“The proverbial ‘casting couch’ was Harvey Weinstein’s office of choice, a choice facilitated and condoned by TWC and Miramax,” says the jury seeking complaint from a Jane Doe, who details a harrowing encounter with Weinstein several years ago. “Plaintiff, and hundreds of other female actors like her, found themselves with Weinstein on the casting couch at offices, in hotel rooms, or at rooms at industry functions,” the eight-count filing adds (read it here). “Under the guise of meetings ostensibly to help further Class Members’ careers or hire them for roles, Weinstein isolated Plaintiff and the Class Members in an attempt to engage in unwanted sexual conduct that took many forms: flashing, groping, fondling, battering, sexual assault, attempted rape and/or completed rape.”
While no specific date is cited for the sexual assault described by the unnamed actress in the complaint, it allegedly occurred in the evening in a “building also occupied by Miramax,” the Harvey and Bob Weinstein company that was completely sold to Disney in 2005 as the brothers went on to form TWC – which terminated Weinstein on October 8 and, still owning 23%, he formally resigned from on October 17.
Class action certification is rarely an easy process and one often disliked by the courts for their unwieldy nature – tendencies that today’s complaint clear is trying to pre-empt.
“Weinstein’s widespread sexual misconduct did not occur without the help of others,” today proposed class action asserts as it widens its scope beyond the producer himself. “Rather, over time, Weinstein enlisted the aid of other firms and individuals to facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct,” Jane Does’ attorneys declare, noting various media reports on the much accused and increasingly sued Weinstein and TWC itself. “This coalition of firms and individuals became part of the growing ‘Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,’ a RICO enterprise,” they add with the once much mob cited federal law of a group crime, so to speak.
“Each participant in the Weinstein Sexual Enterprise had a systematic linkage to each other participant through corporate ties, contractual relationships, financial ties, and the continuing coordination of activities, the class action from law firms Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP And Manhattan Beach’s The Armenta Law Firm lays out. “Through the Weinstein Sexual Enterprise, the Defendants and their co-conspirators functioned as a continuing unit with the purpose of furthering the illegal scheme and their common purposes,” it goes on to argue, with a kicker of “all of whom are responsible for Weinstein’s sexual offenses because Weinstein acted within the scope of his employment and/or these entities ratified or concealed Weinstein’s conduct.”
Though they have rebuffed allegations of “non-consensual sex” and denied “any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances” in the recent past, reps for Harvey Weinstein did not respond to a request for comment on the potential class action today. TWC, fellow defendants attorney Boies and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, Miramax and American Media executive Dylan Howard also did not respond to the matter.
In their silence, we have the allegations of this latest lawsuit, and they follow a pattern.
With many traits that we’ve heard in previous allegations against the now disgraced producer, the filing claims that after going through the motions of a private audition, Weinstein demanded sexual favors of the actress. When the Jane Doe refused to expose her breast for Weinstein, he supposedly flew into a rage, threaten that she would “never work in this town again” and eventually locked her in a “pitch-black stairwell.” Abandoned by Weinstein, it was only thanks to a “maintenance worker” hearing her screams that the legally blind woman escaped the stairwell, the filing states.
In a play to establish behavior in this case to the wide spread outcry that has emerged in the past month or so, Rose McGowan, Ashley Judd, Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento and Gwyneth Paltrow are all cited in the potentially massive suit. With them and over 70 other women having come gone public with the inappropriate actions by Weinstein they suffered, the complaint notes its seeking of certification because “there are dozens, and likely hundreds, of proposed Class members.” The lawyers also note that “the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount or $5,000,000.00.”
With the crippled TWC facing an unstable future, to put it mildly, and Weinstein himself under investigation by the LAPD, NYPD, Beverly Hills police and the UK police, if this complaint is certified by a federal judge, this could be the TKO for the seemingly enabling defendants.
Or, Jane Does’ attorneys said in a statement today: “The suit seeks retribution for class members’ loss of work opportunities and devastating damage to their careers, as well as damages for emotional distress, all of which can be tripled under RICO law.”