Weinstein Co. sought to toss out a lawsuit by alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein, arguing that former colleagues were not aware of his “predatory” behavior toward actresses, assistants and models at the studio he co-founded.
Attorneys for Weinstein Co. on Tuesday filed the motion to dismiss a potential federal class-action lawsuit brought in November by six women, saying that the former movie mogul alone was responsible for his actions and that the acts allegedly happened a decade or more ago.
“Virtually all of the alleged conduct…. was committed by H. Weinstein, acting alone, between 10 and 25 years ago,” the attorneys wrote in legal papers filed in New York. “None of the plaintiffs have pleaded facts demonstrating any concrete, nonspeculative injury to their business prospects, nor have they alleged how TWC’s alleged conduct was the direct cause of such injury.”
The federal lawsuit alleges Weinstein Co. and executives were part of a massive scheme that enabled Harvey Weinstein to rape and sexually assault women.
The response to the lawsuit comes days after Weinstein Co. President David Glasser was fired by the company.
Glasser came under fire from New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who sued Weinstein Co. and its co-founders as a result of an ongoing civil rights investigation that began four months ago. Schneiderman accused Weinstein Co.'s management of being complicit in Weinstein's behavior toward women. He singled out Glasser, accusing him of failing to respond to “dozens of shocking” complaints to the company's human resources department, and that he received an email “to discuss a settlement” and a nondisclosure agreement with a woman.
The attorney general’s action has damaged the prospects for a potential $500-million deal to sell Weinstein Co. in what had been viewed as a last ditch effort to save the company from bankruptcy.
Weinstein Co. attorneys are seeking to distance the firm from the actions of its co-founder, noting he was fired last fall after allegations initially made in the New York Times led to a torrent of reports of rape, sexual harassment and misconduct. More than 80 women — many of them prominent actresses — have publicly accused Weinstein of sexual misdeeds spanning four decades.
Harvey Weinstein also faces more than a dozen criminal investigations in Los Angeles, London and New York.
Weinstein has categorically denied through his attorneys committing any crimes. His attorneys have said “it is wrong and irresponsible to conflate claims of impolitic behavior or consensual sexual contact later regretted with an untrue claim of criminal conduct.”
The plaintiffs in the class-action case are Louisette Geiss, Katherine Kendall, Zoe Brock, Sarah Ann Masse, Melissa Sagemiller and Nannette Klatt.
In the lawsuit, Geiss alleged that during the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, Weinstein exposed himself and asked her to watch him masturbate as she pitched him a screenplay.
Kendall stated that in 1993, when she was a 23-year-old actress, she went to Weinstein’s New York apartment for a meeting and that he asked her for a massage and then chased her around the room naked.
She alleged she was on a target list drawn up by the executive of people with potentially damaging information. The complaint says a man who pretended to be from the Guardian newspaper contacted her this summer but was actually an “intelligence participant” working for Weinstein’s investigative team.
New Zealand-born model Brock stated that in 1998 she was tricked into going to Weinstein’s room in Cannes, France. After his assistants had left, she stated, he appeared naked demanding a massage and she had to hide in the bathroom as he pounded on the door. When she eventually got back to her hotel, Brock called her mother and actor Rufus Sewell, who replied: “Don't tell me you have been Weinsteined,” according to the complaint. The incident was recounted in a Los Angeles Times article about Weinstein’s ties to the fashion business.
A New York Times report has detailed the apparatus Weinstein allegedly used to keep stories about his conduct out of the media, including an army of contacts in the tabloid media.