WEINSTEIN CO. must return to New York court to face a lawsuit by women who say the firm is responsible for alleged sexual misconduct by founder Harvey Weinstein, a federal judge ruled.
The bankrupt film company is no longer shielded from the lawsuit because it plans to sell all of its assets and is no longer in business, US Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath ruled. The decision could help a group of women who say they want to represent potentially “hundreds” of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit who may have been sexually abused by Weinstein.
During the hearing in Wilmington, Delaware, the Weinstein Co. also lost its fight to keep Harvey Weinstein’s employment contract secret. That document shows that Harvey Weinstein’s actions were facilitated by the company, Jeffrey Waxman, a bankruptcy lawyer for the alleged victims, said in court. Weinstein Co. attorney Paul Zumbro declined to comment.
“Weinstein’s widespread sexual misconduct did not occur without the help of others,” lawyers for the women said in a court filing. The Weinstein Co. “is responsible for Weinstein’s sexual offenses because Weinstein acted within the scope of his employment and/or TWC ratified or concealed Weinstein’s conduct.”
“The motion granted today brings victims one step closer to the day in court we deserve, in allowing our case to move forward,” Melissa Thompson, one of the women who have sued Weinstein, said in an e-mail. “I am overwhelmingly grateful as this decision marks another important milestone toward a new standard of accountability to abuses of power.”
Weinstein Co. had objected to the suits proceeding in New York district court, saying they would distract the company from an “efficient and orderly liquidation process.” Weinstein’s attorney has said he will plead not guilty to charges of felony sex crimes by Manhattan’s district attorney.
The bankruptcy case is The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC, 18-10601, US Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). — Bloomberg