U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein has rejected the proposed $18.9 million civil settlement for women who claimed they were subjected to sexual abuse and workplace harassment by the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
“The idea that Harvey Weinstein could get a defense fund ahead of the plaintiffs is obnoxious,” Hellerstein said at a hearing. “The idea you can regulate the claims of people not in the settlement — I can’t subscribe to that.”
The judge also rejected the notion of a class action settlement. “This is not a class action,” he continued. “I will not give preliminary approval to the settlement.” Judge Hellerstein rejected the settlement because the agreement tries to create a group case that covers claims by women who asked to be excluded from a deal. He said the proposal unfairly lumps together women who simply met Weinstein with those who were sexually assaulted by him.
“Not every woman was captured in the same way,” Hellerstein said. “Your settlement would create inequality among all of those people."
The rejected settlement would have allowed Weinstein to pay nothing in the settlement while paying most of the victims a paltry sum of $10-20,000 each. The bulk of the settlement would have gone to defense costs.
“The prudential decision of the judge avoids a tragic miscarriage of justice,” stated Thomas P. Giuffra who has fought the proposed settlement from its inception.
“My client and I are thrilled with the decision rejecting the class settlement and Judge Hellerstein’s refusal to certify this case as a class. Judge Hellerstein recognized all of the flaws of the agreement and class.
Ms. Canosa was one of the few at the beginning of the Weinstein scandal who found the courage to stand up for what is right.
She continued to show her valor by being one of the few to stand up against a bogus class action settlement for almost two years.
The settlement was only fair to attorneys raking in millions at the expense of the victims. Ms. Canosa’s convictions have once again been vindicated as justice prevailed with today’s decision.
As Judge Hellerstein indicated, instead of chasing a settlement, Ms. Fagan should litigate her cases. We have done just that and have proceeded further along in discovery than any other case that has been filed.
The Attorney General of New York should be ashamed of herself for putting her support behind such an unfair and punitive agreement.
“I am very pleased the judge concurred and justice will be served,” noted Giuffra.
Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence at a maximum security prison in upstate New York after his conviction at a trial this year.