Beth Fegan is co-lead counsel in a class action brought on behalf of women in the entertainment industry who sued Harvey Weinstein over allegations of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape. The firm announced the class has reached an $18.875 million settlement with Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC (“TWC”), and certain former officers, directors and employees of TWC.
Filed in November 2017, the class action lawsuit alleges that Harvey Weinstein was a serial sexual harasser and abuser, and the various companies with which he was affiliated, as well as certain respective current and former officers and directors, failed to stop or prevent his actions in violation of federal and state law.
Supporting the settlement is the New York State Office of the Attorney General, which sued Harvey Weinstein in February 2018 for creating a hostile work environment at TWC, and sued TWC for failing to stop the unwanted sexual conduct in violation of state and city human rights laws.
If approved by the court, the settlement will create a survivors’ fund allowing all women who were abused by Harvey Weinstein under certain circumstances to make claims for damages in a confidential and non-adversarial process.
The settlement’s two-tier claim structure allows class members to choose whether, and in how much detail, they want to share their stories:
- Tier 1 Claims: Each Settlement Class Member has the option to submit a claim form online or via U.S. Mail, describing the claimant’s experience, the impact, and/or the damages the claimant suffered. If the claimant chooses, they can include documentation in support of the claim form. That claim form will be reviewed by a court-appointed Special Master or designee. Payments of $7,500 to $150,000 may be awarded based on the Special Master’s review and pro rata adjustments.
- Tier 2 Claims: Alternatively, each Settlement Class Member may submit a claim form, supporting documentation, and submit to an interview by the Special Master regarding the class member’s experience and the impact of the events. Payments of $7,500 to $750,000 may be awarded based on the Special Master’s review and pro rata adjustments.
Notably, the settlement ensures the survivors will be compensated even though TWC and certain affiliates filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in March 2018. Absent the settlement, any sexual misconduct claims against TWC would be compensated only after secured creditors were paid in full. Because sexual misconduct survivors are considered unsecured creditors, the plaintiffs would be lumped with the estimated $250 million in unsecured creditor claims already filed in the bankruptcy proceedings.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York will decide whether to grant preliminary approval of the settlement. If preliminarily approved, the Court will order that notice of the settlement be provided to the settlement class and will set deadlines for claims to be submitted or objections to be made to the settlement. The Court will then hold a fairness hearing to decide whether to grant final approval of the settlement. After preliminary approval, updates can be found at www.weinsteinclaims.com or www.feganscott.com.