A federal judge has rejected a $46.8 million settlement of the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct cases, saying some of its terms are “obnoxious” and it is not suitable for a class action.
In a 20-minute hearing on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the settlement improperly nullifies claims of non-participating parties, and delegates his responsibilities as a judge to a special master. He also objected that Weinstein and other directors and officers of the Weinstein Co. will get millions in attorneys’ fees.
“The idea that Harvey Weinstein can get a defense fund ahead of the claimants is obnoxious,” he said. “The idea you can regulate the claims of people not in the settlement — I can’t subscribe to that.”
Hellerstein had previously dismissed most of the claims in the class action case, and continues to believe that the plaintiffs’ experiences are so various that the case should not be handled as a class action.
“This is not a class action,” Hellerstein said. “I will not give preliminary approval to the settlement.”
Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent three plaintiffs who had objected to the deal, said that the flaws in the deal were clear from the beginning.
“We have been saying for over a year and a half that the settlement terms and conditions were unfair and should never be imposed on sexual assault survivors,” they said in a statement, along with attorney Bryan Arbeit. “We were surprised that class counsel and the New York Attorney General did not recognize this fact but are pleased that Judge Hellerstein swiftly rejected the one-sided proposal. On behalf of our clients, we look forward to pursuing justice against Harvey Weinstein and his many enablers.”
Dozens of attorneys have been working on the settlement for more than 18 months. The settlement would have used insurance company funds to establish pools of money for class action claimants, individual plaintiffs, Weinstein Co. trade creditors, and defense attorneys working for Harvey Weinstein and the other Weinstein Co. officers and directors.
The judge’s comments struck at the basic foundations of the deal, and appear to leave little room for attorneys to modify the terms and bring it back for approval.
Attorneys in the Weinstein Co. bankruptcy have said they hoped to get approval of the deal and to confirm a liquidation plan by the end of 2020.
Source: Read Full Article