Survivors in Weinstein lawsuit to receive $18.8 million settlement, but some consider it ‘sellout’

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Harvey Weinstein and his former studio’s board have reached a nearly $19 million settlement Tuesday following a lawsuit on behalf of the New York Attorney General’s office and multiple women who accused the Hollywood film producer of sexual assault and misconduct. According to a statement from law firms Fegan Scott LLP and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the settlement still needs approval in the U.S. District Court in New York City. If approved, the $18.8 million settlement will result in a victims’ fund for the women who were abused by Weinstein. Payments will range from $7,500 to $750,000 to each survivor dependent on the impact of misconduct, NBC News reported. The plaintiffs will also be released from any nondisclosure agreements they have signed.

Not only does the settlement resolve a 2018 lawsuit against Weinstein, his production company, and his brother Robert Weinstein by the New York Attorney General’s office for “egregious violations of New York’s civil rights, human rights, and business laws”—it also settles a separate class-action lawsuit on behalf of the women who have accused Weinstein of assault and harassment, the attorney general’s office said.

The settlement announced by New York Attorney General Letitia James and Chicago attorney Elizabeth A. Fegan follows Weinstein’s conviction in February on two counts of sex crimes in New York City. He was sentenced to 23 years in person and is currently serving his sentence at a maximum-security prison in New York. “After all the harassment, threats, and discrimination, these survivors are finally receiving some semblance of justice,” James said on Twitter. “Women who were forced to sign confidentiality agreements will also be freed from those clauses and finally be able to speak.”

Dozens of women came together in 2017 as part of the #MeToo and spoke up about the abuse Weinstein perpetuated. Following an initial report by The New York Times, other women joined and came forward, alleging they too were abused by Weinstein and sparking the global movement to hold men in power accountable for their actions. “This settlement is the culmination of several years of hard work by survivors who not only initiated the #MeToo movement around Weinstein, but also used their platforms to seek justice for all of those who were afraid to come forward for fear of retaliation in Hollywood,” Fegan said.

According to the Associated Press, the settlement news release included a statement by plaintiff Caitlin Dulany, who says she was assaulted by Weinstein in 1996 at the Cannes Film Festival. “When I came forward and shared my story about the assault, I knew there wouldn’t be a straight path to justice,” Dulany said. “Harvey avoided accountability for decades, leveraging his power to hide behind a web of deceit, and I was determined to join the class action to ensure meaningful change for all survivors,” she added. “I am proud that this settlement will help so many women who are long overdue for justice and relief.”

Another survivor, Louisette Geiss, acknowledged that while “no amount of money” would make up for Weinstein’s crimes, she is proud of the accomplishment. “This important act of solidarity allowed us to use our collective voice to help those who had been silenced and to give back to the many, many survivors who lost their careers and more,” Geiss said.

But while some praised the settlement and were proud of the lawsuit’s results, attorneys for several other women who are also suing Weinstein for misconduct called it a “complete sellout” in addition to noting it did not hold Weinstein accountable.

Douglas H. Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, attorneys representing six of the women Weinstein abused, said they disagree with the settlement and consider it to be “deeply unfair” because it does not require Weinstein to pay money out of his pocket, nor accept responsibility for his actions. “The proposed settlement is a complete sellout of the Weinstein survivors and we are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels,” the attorneys told CNN. “We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”

They noted that they do not “begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal” but believe the agreement is unfair for several reasons, including harm it would cause women who do not join the settlement. According to Wigdor and Mintzer, those who do not join the settlement will not be able to pursue large amounts of money from insurance companies that receive protection from the deal.

Despite the dozens of women who have come out against him, being convicted of heinous crimes, and the end of his career in Hollywood, Weinstein shows no remorse. He “remains intently focused in defending himself on all remaining legal matters, including the appeal of his criminal conviction, civil lawsuits, and the charges filed against him in LA,” Weinstein’s attorney, Imran Ansari, told CNN. ”He continues to pursue all legal recourse available to him and remains steadfast in the defense of those matters.”

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