LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) - Film producer Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused by more than 50 women of sexual harassment and assault, is now facing a proposed class action lawsuit filed by a group of actresses.
An unnamed female plaintiff filed the suit against Weinstein in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Nov. 15.
In the complaint, she is described as a resident of Lancaster, Calif., who auditioned with Weinstein for a part in a Miramax production.
During her audition, the plaintiff claims she was assaulted by Weinstein and then threatened, falsely imprisoned, and suffered emotional and physical “distress.”
“Weinstein told Jane Doe 1 that if she refused his advances and his requests, he would ruin her, and he ultimately withdrew the offer he had given her for a part because she would not accede to his advances,” according to the 58-page complaint.
Last month, Weinstein, following numerous allegations of harassment, assault and rape against him, was fired by his company’s board of directors and expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The proposed class action also names The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC, Miramax LLC and various “John Does” as defendants.
The plaintiff claims she, along with “hundreds” of other female actors like her, found themselves with Weinstein on the casting couch at offices, in hotel rooms or at rooms at industry functions.
“The proverbial ‘casting couch’ was Harvey Weinstein’s office of choice, a choice facilitated and condoned by TWC (The Weinstein Company Holdings LLC) and Miramax,” she wrote in the complaint.
“Under the guise of meetings ostensibly to help further Class Members’ careers or hire them for roles, Weinstein isolated Plaintiff and the Class Members in an attempt to engage in unwanted sexual conduct that took many forms: flashing, groping, fondling, battering, sexual assault, attempted rape and/or completed rape.”
Others aided in Weinstein’s “widespread” sexual misconduct, the lawsuit alleges.
“Weinstein enlisted the aid of other firms and individuals to facilitate and conceal his pattern of unwanted sexual conduct,” the suit states. “This coalition of firms and individuals became part of the growing ‘Weinstein Sexual Enterprise,’ a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) enterprise.”
The plaintiff alleges the enterprise had “many participants,” including TWC and Miramax, and grew over time as the obfuscation of Weinstein’s alleged conduct became more difficult to conceal.
The plaintiff contends they all are responsible for the producer’s alleged sexual offenses.
“Defendants’ conduct has caused widespread damage, including personal injury, emotional distress, and damage to the careers of Plaintiff and the Class, for which Defendants must be held responsible,” the suit states.
Class action law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and The Armenta Law Firm APC in Manhattan Beach, Calif., are representing the plaintiffs.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.