Court approves £12.5million settlement plan for Harvey Weinstein accusers
A bankruptcy judge has approved The Weinstein Company’s liquidation plan, which sets aside $17 million for women who accused co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
Judge Mary Walrath in Wilmington, Delaware, announced her ruling at the conclusion of a remote hearing. She overruled an objection from a handful of women who are looking to pursue appeals of their claims outside of bankruptcy court.
The fund, equivalent to £12.5m, will be divided among more than 50 claimants, with the most serious allegations resulting in payouts of £370,000 or more. The settlement was put to a vote of Weinstein's accusers, with 39 voting in favour and eight opposed.
Judge Walrath noted the majority of sexual misconduct claimants “have expressed very loudly that they want closure through acceptance of this plan, that they do not seek to have to go through any further litigation in order to receive some recovery, some possible recompense ... although it’s clear that money will never give them that.”
The Weinstein Company sold its assets to Lantern Entertainment, which later became Spyglass Media Group, for £212 million after it filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
The bankruptcy was precipitated by widespread claims of sexual misconduct against company founder Weinstein, who is serving a 23-year prison term after being convicted of sexually assaulting a former production assistant and raping an actress.
The plan also provides £7.1 million to the former officers and directors of the Weinstein Company, allowing them to pay a portion of their legal bills over the last several years.
The directors and officers, who include Weinstein's brother, Bob, also received releases that absolve them of any potential liability for enabling Weinstein's conduct.
Ruby Liu, an attorney representing the objectors, argued Monday that the settlement fund is "meagre" and that the deal deprives her clients of the opportunity to pursue Bob Weinstein and other directors in court.
"There are more than monetary considerations that my clients are seeking," she said. "They are seeking a finding from a jury that holds all responsible parties accountable. That's not just Harvey Weinstein."
Insurers have contributed £25.8 million under the plan, so holders of sexual misconduct claims will get almost half of that. The Weinstein Co’s lawyers say the women who filed the claims could each see six-figure recoveries.
They will have the option to forgo most of their payout under the plan if they want to continue pursuing their claims against Weinstein and former officers and directors of the company.
A group of women with sexual abuse claims argued that the choice between a full payout and continuing to pursue their claims was unfair. But lawyers for the company and an unsecured creditors’ committee, which includes women who filed sexual misconduct claims, say those releases for former officers and directors are a key component of the plan.
A lawyer for the company, Paul Zumbro of Cravath Swaine & Moore, said during the hearing that the plan is “remarkable” and a “favourable closure of this really ugly story.”
Reference: Barney Davis: Barney Davis