Weinstein class-action settlement faces early objections from several women – The Hollywood Reporter


One of the women at the heart of a class action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein says she was fired as a client by her lawyers for not being “respectful” enough and for expressing concerns about the terms of a proposed settlement. She is one of many accusers of Harvey Weinstein who have asked a New York federal judge to deny preliminary approval of the deal.

Zoë Brock Friday filed an opposition to the settlement and told the court that she was abandoned by Elizabeth Fegan. In an email dated December 18, 2019, attached to the file, Fegan wrote: “It is clear that our relationship has deteriorated to the point that it cannot be reconciled,” and advises Brock to find new lawyers either in the other firm representing the Weinstein, Hagens Berman, or elsewhere Charging Class.

“Although Ms. Brock is a named plaintiff in this matter and appears in the amended complaint as a representative of the class, she was excluded from the settlement negotiations in this matter,” attorney Daniel D. Williams wrote in the file. “When the proposed terms of settlement were disclosed to Ms. Brock last fall, she verbally expressed that the terms of the settlement were inadequate to hold Mr. Weinstein, his facilitators and his companies accountable for the harm they had caused. Ms Brock had also expressed serious concerns that the compensation offered for Fegan and Hagans was excessive and did not put their clients first. Once Ms Brock raised these concerns, attorney Fegan informed Ms Brock that she would no longer represent her.

In a footnote in Fegan’s response to the record, counsel challenges this qualification. “Ms. Brock has questioned what she claims to be the reason for Fegan Scott’s dismissal, apparently waiving attorney-client privilege,” it read. “Although her accusations are inaccurate, they are a red herring without report with preliminary approval If the Court wishes a statement as to the facts and timing, Ms. Fegan will provide one at the Court’s request.

Brock argues that the settlement should be rejected because the victims fund is funded by insurance companies, so Weinstein and other executives accused of allowing the alleged conduct pay nothing.

“It defies credulity to suggest that none of the Weinstein brothers or other alleged conspirators have money to help with the settlement,” Williams writes. Likewise, many of the officers and directors who have made it easy or blind to Mr. Weinstein’s conduct appear to be very wealthy individuals, who could withstand major judgment even if The Weinstein Company were dissolved in bankruptcy and no compensation was not available because the relevant insurance policies were exhausted. The settlement documents in court do not explain why these wealthy men are being asked not to contribute anything to a settlement that frees them from the potential of massive damages judgments against them.

Brock also takes issue with the claims process, arguing that the disclosures he requires “will inhibit and hamper the most traumatized potential claimants,” as well as the criteria that will be used by the special master to award compensation.

Fegan responded in a Sunday depot which qualifies Brock’s objection as “premature and ill-informed”. While every class member has the right to oppose and to be heard, she argues, “there is a time and place to oppose a class action settlement, and it is not. case “.

This moment, Fegan argues, is when the court considers final approval.

“The typical settlement approval sequence – preliminary approval and issuance of a notice, followed by exclusions and objections, then final approval – makes sense and serves important purposes,” Fegan writes. The lawyer also argues that Brock’s claim that Weinstein attempted to assault him in 1996 during the Cannes Film Festival was dismissed for being out of time and would likely not be restored on appeal. “In the absence of this settlement, Mrs. Brock is likely to receive nothing. “

Fegan also defends the complaints process, arguing that it is based on complaint forms used in other sexual abuse and discrimination cases, including the $ 215 million settlement in the high-profile class action lawsuit against USC gynecologist George Tyndall.

Meanwhile, former Weinstein Co. employee Alexandra Canosa on Monday filed his own objection to the regulations. She alleges that there have been “several attempts to scare her into settling in” – including a “brutal” attempt by a member of the New York attorney general’s office during a interview on Skype.

Canosa alleges the deal is structured to penalize members of the group who do not settle down and rewards Weinstein at the expense of women who accuse him of abuse and harassment.

“Basic decency, fairness and justice would not allow a convicted rapist to receive sums of money to the detriment of his victims,” ​​writes lawyer Thomas P. Giuffra. “To punish unpaid claimants for failing to settle, HW and his brother will receive a defense fund of $ 1,500,000.00 taken from the sums that would otherwise have been paid to Ms. Canosa, Weidil David and Dominique Huett so that he could contest their claims. … This provision alone demonstrates what an unjust and despicable deal the Court is called upon to endorse. “

Canosa also notes that if the settlement is finalized, TWC – her former employer – will be dismissed in her lawsuit against Weinstein and she will be forced to accept a “paltry” $ 25,000 from the company. She also maintains that even though she accepts the settlement now, she is penalized $ 600,000 for not agreeing to settle earlier. Like Brock, Canosa takes issue with insurance companies footing the bill for settlement and attorney fees.

Also on Monday, Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, who represent several women who have claims against Weinstein, filed an opposition to the regulation. The filing on behalf of Wedil David, Dominique Huett, Kaja Sokola, Rowena Chiu, Zelda Perkins and Tarale Wulff echoes many of the same concerns. Lawyers in a press statement described it as the most one-sided and unfair settlement they have seen offered in court. “Under no circumstances should the very wealthy former directors, including Harvey and Bob Weinstein, receive more money than a class of rape and sexual assault survivors,” one can read in part. “The efforts to prevent women from pursuing legal action and holding those responsible for their trauma to account are simply unprecedented. We are encouraged by the growing opposition to this regulation and hope that it will be rejected. “

Another objection was filed Monday by a group of four anonymous women who say they were sexually assaulted by Weinstein. Their lawyer Jordan K. Merson written in a folder that its clients “oppose vigorously, loudly and completely to the proposed“ settlement ”. “

Lawyers for Miriam “Mimi” Haley, who was among the victims who testified in Weinstein’s criminal trial on Monday sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein asking him to delay the decision on the preliminary approval motion so that they can assess whether their client should intervene in the proceeding. Says the letter: “Although we have only begun to explore the terms of this complex proposed settlement, it is clear, even from our initial research, that the terms of the proposed mandatory settlement group would unlawfully deprive Ms. Haley of her right to withdraw if it decides to continue its exceptionally strong civil actions against Harvey Weinstein and / or his accomplices. “

Since Weinstein’s conviction is tied, in part, to Haley’s testimony, the statute of limitations for her to bring a civil action is extended to five years from the date of that conviction.

“Further, Weinstein’s criminal conviction would collaterally prevent her from relaunching Ms. Haley’s potential civil action if he had violated her, and she could therefore immediately seek summary judgment and be entitled to a judgment in law regarding the claim.” Weinstein’s liability in any civil action she might bring against him, ”attorney John Cuti wrote in the letter. “But the lawyer in this action would demand that Ms. Haley waive those rights if this proposed settlement is approved.” Under the proposed settlement, Ms. Haley, who was assaulted on July 10, 2006, would be a member of the putative post-2005 subgroup. No member of this putative subclass has the right to opt out.

It should be noted that while Hellerstein does not deny the preliminary approval, if enough women object, the settlement could fail. There is an exclusion threshold for certain class members that would allow defendants to opt out of the agreement. This number is currently not public – and the lawyers of the class are fighting to make it so. Last week, Fegan filed a petition asking the court to keep it confidential to “deter third parties from asking group members to step down.”

Weinstein’s lawyer, Imran H. Ansari of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins, sent on Monday Hollywood journalist a statement in response to objections. “Mr. Weinstein does not intend to waive his legal and constitutional right to defend himself against the charges against him and does intend to defend himself against the allegations made against him by those not participating in the settlement, “Ansari said.” The practical reality is that those who opt out of the settlement face an uncertain financial recovery, with The Weinstein Company going bankrupt and Mr. Weinstein defending legal issues, facing debts and losses. judgments, frozen assets and a line of creditors seeking compensation. Mr. Weinstein’s current and future financial situation is far from healthy, not only his personal freedom has been taken away, but his financial freedom as well .

A hearing is currently set for Tuesday morning. Here’s how long each of the parties’ legal teams will have to argue: Class (15 minutes), Weinstein (5 minutes), The Weinstein Co. (5 minutes), New York Attorney General’s Office (5 minutes), Brock ( 2 minutes), Canosa (2 minutes), Haley (2 minutes) and Wigdor will get 5 minutes in total on behalf of Chiu, David, Huett, Perkins, Sokola and Wulff.


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