Six women who are pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and the studio that bears his name are seeking the bankruptcy court’s permission to resume their case.
Attorneys for the women today filed a request with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware to lift an automatic stay and allow the case to proceed in federal district court in New York.
The women filed suit in December, saying they — and potentially hundreds of other women like them — found themselves with Weinstein on the proverbial “casting couch” at offices, in hotel rooms, in his homes or at industry functions.
“Under the guise of meetings ostensibly to help further their careers, or to hire them, or to socialize at industry events, Weinstein isolated [these women] in an attempt to engage in unwanted sexual conduct that took many forms: flashing, groping, fondling, harassing, battering, false imprisonment, sexual assault, attempted rape and/or completed rape,” the women allege in court documents.
The women, whose suit followed the explosive allegations reported last fall by The New York Times and New Yorker, say Weinstein exploited his powerful position in the entertainment industry to wield the threat of blacklisting against the women who rebuffed his sexual advances.
The suit seeks to hold Weinstein, The Weinstein Co. and its board of directors accountable for allegedly facilitating and and concealing this pattern of unwanted sexual conduct — including the destruction of incriminating documents, the suit claims.
Proceedings paused on April 17, federal district court Judge Alvin Hellerstein stayed the case and instructed lawyers to get the bankruptcy court’s blessing to proceed.
In today’s court filing, lawyers for the accusers — who include Louisette Geiss, a member of the Unsecured Creditors Committee in the bankruptcy proceedings — say that allowing this case to go forward would not interfere with the ongoing sale of The Weinstein Co.’s assets.
The attorneys argue the case is an urgent issue for women who say they endured Weinstein’s unwanted sexual conduct.
“It is imperative that the Geiss litigation proceed expeditiously in the district court so that [these women] can recover for Weinstein and The Weinstein Co.’s conduct, which has caused widespread damage, including personal injury and emotional distress … and damage to their careers,” the attorneys argue.
The lawyers say they’re worried that evidence might not survive the sale of the studio. Although The Weinstein Co. has a duty to preserve documents, they say it has ignored or refused requests to describe the steps the company has taken to preserve evidence.
The women also believe they’re likely to win in court.