Attorney Thomas P. Giuffra of the New York law firm Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP has blasted a proposed settlement of legal claims against former movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, stating that the settlement offer tries to “[force] claimants to accept an unfair agreement.” Attorney Giuffra, who is representing Alexandra Canosa in the high-profile Weinstein case, noted that the settlement not only allows Weinstein to avoid admitting guilt but also grants him millions of dollars to pay for his own legal fees.
“I think it’s an outrage,” Attorney Giuffra said of the proposed settlement. “It’s a lousy number; it’s way too low.”
The $47 million settlement, which was proposed back in December of 2019, sets aside $25 million for more than 30 victims—and another $12 million for Weinstein, his brother Robert Weinstein, and directors of the now-bankrupt Weinstein movie studio for their legal fees and associated costs. The remainder of the settlement would go towards The Weinstein Companies’ business creditors.
Under this settlement offer, the now-bankrupt Weinstein Company would pay all funds; Weinstein himself would not be required to personally pay anything to the victims.
Some claimants would be guaranteed a settlement of $500,000 but others, including those with potential future claims, are uncertain what they could recover under this settlement offer.
“The most troubling aspect of this settlement,” noted Attorney Giuffra, “is a punitive provision designed to force victims to settle.” Under the provision, if a claimant chooses not to settle, funds from the $25 million that these claimants would have otherwise received would be allocated to Weinstein and his associates in order to defend against the claims in court. Attorney Giuffra stated that the provision was “like the U.S. giving military aid to Iran to attack Israel… they’re saying either you take the money or we’re going to give the guns to the man who raped you.”
So far, at least two claimants are opposing the deal, meaning at least $1 million could be allocated back to Weinstein.
Despite a flurry of media attention, the settlement has a long way to go before it is approved. In order to go into effect, the deal would need to be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge as part of The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy protection plan, which is currently ongoing. Additionally, opposition from Attorney Giuffra, along with several other attorneys representing claimants against Weinstein, could put a halt to the deal.
Complicating matters is the fact that Attorney Elizabeth Fegan, who is representing a group of claimants in a class-action lawsuit against The Weinstein Company, has actively supported the settlement. However, Attorney Giuffra remains staunchly opposed. He noted that, should the settlement be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge, he is prepared to continue fighting on behalf of his client by going after Weinstein personally.