Judge Sides with Survivors Against The Weinstein Company as Court Grants Motion to Lift Stay
Bankruptcy judge allows cases to proceed in federal court
NEW YORK – Today, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Mary F. Walrath granted a motion to lift an automatic stay on pending litigation brought by victims of Harvey Weinstein’s systemic sexual harassment and cover-ups, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman representing the proposed class of actresses and other survivors.
“We are incredibly pleased with the court’s decision to lift the stay, allowing our cases against The Weinstein Company to proceed,” said Elizabeth Fegan, a partner at Hagens Berman representing the proposed class. “This is a great day for the countless women who were victimized by Harvey Weinstein, and brings them one step closer to justice.”
“We look forward to continuing these cases in federal court and uncovering the vast web of cover-ups and collusion that allowed and perpetuated Harvey Weinstein’s actions,” Fegan added.
In bankruptcy proceedings, pending litigation against companies filing for Chapter 11 is automatically stayed. In order to have the stay lifted, the court must agree that there is a likelihood of success of the case based on its merits, according to attorneys.
In the defendants’ objection to lifting the stay, The Weinstein Company (TWC) argued it was not liable for providing relief to the women bringing the class-action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, his companies and other defendants. During today’s hearing, Judge Walrath sided with the women, highlighting that Weinstein’s employment contract spelled out set amounts—increasing with each incident to $1million for all incidents beyond the third—which Weinstein would be required to pay the company each time he was sued for violating the company code of conduct. Judge Walrath ruled that the victims had made sufficient showing of likelihood of success.
The bankruptcy judge also stated that it will not be up her to liquidate the claims. The claims will now be handled by Judge Hellerstein in federal court, which will be the next stage. Currently there are nine motions to dismiss filed by TWC and the rest of the defendants. Plaintiffs responded to those motions, and defendants have until June 29, 2018, to reply before Judge Hellerstein decides the motions to dismiss. According to the case’s filings, Hellerstein “expressed doubt” that he would grant defendants’ motions to dismiss.
If you were assaulted by Harvey Weinstein, find out more about the lawsuit. Hagens Berman’s attorneys achieved a nationwide sexual harassment settlement on behalf of 16,000 women and also tried the first ever sexual harassment case in Washington state in 1985.
In the most recent lawsuit, filed June 1, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the plaintiffs state they were lured by Miramax or TWC employees and isolated with Weinstein in his office and hotel rooms to discuss involvement in a project. The suit highlights that at all times, Weinstein’s victims and those who met to discuss projects or audition for him “operated under duress and the threat of being blacklisted” by Weinstein and major producers at Miramax if they refused, or spoke up.
The lawsuits seek retribution for class members’ loss of work opportunities and devastating damage to their careers, the damages for which can be tripled under RICO law. Plaintiffs also seek damages for the significant physical and emotional distress they endured then, and continue to endure now.
Recent news headlines have brought these heinous acts to the forefront, and many victims have bravely stepped forward to tell their stories. Hagens Berman continues the fight, working to help achieve justice for those who have been victim to sexual harassment, and affect systemic change throughout the industry. Tell us about your case.
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About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with ten offices across the country. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at https://www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.
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