Six women who claim they were sexually abused by Harvey Weinstein urged a U.S. judge on Monday to reject an $18.9 million settlement between the disgraced movie producer, the board of his former studio, and other accusers.
The settlement announced on June 30 would end litigation by New York Attorney-General Letitia James and separate class-action litigation, and permit accusers to claim between $7,500 and $750,000 each.
But in a Manhattan federal court filing, the six women complained that the accord “absolved” Weinstein, his brother Bob Weinstein and the board of liability, and created a $15.2 million windfall to help them cover defense costs.
They said this contrasted with the $11.2 million that accusers would receive, after deducting legal fees and costs, and shielded the defendants’ insurers from big payouts.
The settlement is “a cruel hoax” and among “the most one-sided and unfair class settlements in history,” the filing said. “The main winners ... are Harvey Weinstein, Robert Weinstein, and the ultra-wealthy former directors of The Weinstein Co.”
James’ office and a lawyer for Weinstein did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Gerald Maatman, a lawyer for the Weinstein Cos, declined to comment.
The settlement requires approval by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein.
In 2010, he initially rejected a settlement for workers who suffered health problems after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, saying he would not approve an accord “based on fear or ignorance.”
Weinstein, 68, is serving a 23-year prison term following his Feb. 24 conviction for sexually assaulting a former production assistant and raping a onetime aspiring actress.
He is appealing, and still faces rape and sexual assault charges in Los Angeles.
The guilty verdict was a milestone for the #MeToo movement, which starting in late 2017 inspired women to accuse hundreds of powerful men in business, entertainment, media, politics and other fields of sexual misconduct.
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