Five months after lawyers for James Franco and his controversial, now-shuttered acting school and former students revealed that a settlement had been reached in the class action lawsuit claiming participants had been pushed gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations, money has been put on the table.
Still to be approved by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, the sum is $2,235,000, to be exact. First placed in the court docket back on June 24, the figure was made public today in a notice of joint motion and joint motion for preliminary approval. Read the settlement payment filing here.
Not that Franco is copping to anything inappropriate ever going on.
“While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood,” the parties said in a joint statement. “All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”
According to the filing, the $2.23 million will be allocated with “$894,000.00 to settle the Named Plaintiffs’ individual sexual exploitation claims” of actresses and ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who first filed the lawsuit in 2019. Additionally, there will be $1,341,000 for a Common Fund to settle the fraud claims from which 75 percent shall be apportioned to the Master Fraud Class and 25 percent to the General Fraud Class,” if the deal is signed off on by the LASC judge in the civil matter.
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“In addition to the monetary terms set forth in the Settlement Agreement, the parties have agreed to additional non-economic relief as well, which the Parties are requesting permission to present to the Court under seal,” the June 24 filing from plaintiffs’’ attorneys at Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP notes.
The initial suit from two years ago alleged that Oscar-nominated Franco “sought to create a pipeline of young women who were subjected to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education.” Further, students believed roles in Franco’s films would be the reward for participating in those scenes.
The alleged incidents occurred in a master class on sex scenes that Franco taught at Studio 4, which closed in 2017.
Under the settlement arrangement unveiled in February, the plaintiffs agreed to drop their individual claims under the agreement. The sexual exploitation allegations of other plaintiffs in the class action will be dismissed without prejudice. That means they could be re-filed, the joint status report said. Fraud allegations brought by those plaintiffs will be “subjected to limited release,” according to the document, but did not go into detail on that.
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