Default Purchaser of The Weinstein Co. Would Leave Harvey Victims Empty-Handed; Class Plaintiffs Support Alternative with Proposed $30 Million Victims’ Fund
NEW YORK – Five of the named plaintiffs in the racketeering and sexual assault class action filed against Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company, among others, announced today they will oppose a sale of the company through the bankruptcy proceedings that proposes to wipe out their claims against the company without compensation, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.
The five plaintiffs – Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt – instead strongly support the bid of Inclusion Media, a New York-based company to be formed by Tony award-winning producer Howard Kagan.
Mr. Kagan proposes to form a progressive media company that will ensure the inclusion, advancement and promotion of diversity, including women, people of color, people with disabilities and LGBT persons.
Mr. Kagan also proposes, as part of his bid, to create a settlement fund of $25 million, plus 4% of the equity of Inclusion Media, for the victims who are class members in the class-action lawsuit filed against Weinstein in December 2017, Geiss v. The Weinstein Company et al., to be overseen by the Honorable Alvin K. Hellerstein, the federal district court judge in Geiss. Judge Hellerstein also oversaw the wrongful death, property damage and personal injury lawsuits that arose from the 9/11 terror attacks.
The class-action lawsuit filed Dec. 6, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Weinstein, Miramax, The Weinstein Company Holdings and the members of its Board of Directors states that these entities colluded to perpetuate and conceal Weinstein’s widespread sexual harassment and assaults. Plaintiffs bringing the case were lured by Miramax or TWC employees and isolated with Weinstein at industry events, hotel rooms, Weinstein’s home, office meetings and/or auditions or to discuss involvement in a project.
The sixth named plaintiff, Louisette Geiss, serves as the Chair to the Unsecured Creditors’ Committee, and will be in New York at the auction to fulfill her role as a committee member.
In addition, Mr. Kagan proposes, as part of his bid, to make a payment of cash equal to $5 million and 1% of the equity in Inclusion Media to be distributed to current and former employees of the company who were victims of sexual harassment.
Lantern Asset Capital: A Raw Deal for Victims
Media reports surfaced yesterday that no other bidders have submitted full asset bids to compete with Lantern Asset Capital, the potential default purchaser.
Lantern, a private equity fund based in Dallas, Texas, negotiated a Stalking Horse Bid with The Weinstein Company, which provided for competing bids to be delivered by Apr. 30, 2018, and an auction to occur on Friday, May 4, 2018.
The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against Weinstein are strongly opposed to a purchase of The Weinstein Company by Lantern, a company that never reached out to the plaintiffs and does not propose any fund or compensation for assault victims.
“Lantern’s bid in no way addresses the victims of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault enterprise, and would sweep the 100+ instances of sexual assault, rape and more under the rug. We’re here to show them the assault survivors will not go away quietly,” said Elizabeth Fegan, a Hagens Berman partner and attorney representing those against Weinstein.
“Victims have already shown they will no longer be silenced, and we intend to protect them from being further harmed,” she added.
Lantern Asset Capital proposes purchasing all the assets of The Weinstein Company for $315 million. The proposed Lantern deal contains no fund for assault survivors, no equitable considerations for company employees, and no assurance protections to ensure that women are not required to submit to the “casting couch” in exchange for a career in Hollywood.
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 11 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.