The board at The Weinstein Company suggested it wants to reorganize under another name. Perhaps they could adopt the name Respondent Film Company. The first of what will likely be many lawsuits dropped on TWC yesterday for its role in enabling Harvey Weinstein’s predatory behavior, filed by actress Dominique Huett:
Dominique Huett launched a $5 million (£3.8 million) civil suit in Los Angeles superior court on Tuesday claiming The Weinstein Company enabled its Oscar-winning founder’s “repeated acts of sexual misconduct.”
It is understood to be one of the first claims filed against the company following widespread claims of sexual harassment and assault by its co-founder.
The lawsuit claims Weinstein would use female employees as “honeypots” to lure victims into a false sense of security during meetings with Weinstein before leaving them alone with him.
It also alleges his brother Bob and the company’s directors were aware of Weinstein’s behaviour.
The specific accusation about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior parallels the allegation from Asia Argento. Huett describes the whole sordid and familiar Weinstein pattern, right down to the wardrobe change to the robe in the middle of the meeting. Huett says she met alone with Weinstein, who then bullied her into allowing him into a sex act, after which she got promised a part on “Project Runway” — a show that Weinstein developed that oh-so-coincidentally put him in contact with lots of unknown young women. (At this point, Huett has only one credit on IMDB for a guest role on Blue Bloods as “Sexy Plumber,” and TWC has no affiliation with the show.)
Rather than go after Harvey, though, Huett has decided to go after the entire company. In her lawsuit, Huett claims that brother Bob — and the full board — knew full well about Harvey’s “pattern of using his power to coerce and force young actresses to engage in sexual acts with him.” The lawsuit relies on both “information and belief,” which they will have to produce in court — assuming it goes that far.
The normal Weinstein pattern has been to settle these claims along with a rock-solid NDA. One has to assume TWC, or whatever it calls itself now, will try this strategy again, but that’s only going to go so far. Huett may be the first to go after TWC but she certainly won’t be the last, especially considering the terms of the contract they reportedly negotiated with Harvey. At some point, they’ll run out of money to settle and will have to declare bankruptcy or fight the cases in court. And all of those rock-solid NDAs may start crumbling when plaintiff attorneys begin subpoenaing witnesses that can testify to the patterns within TWC on allegations of procuring victims and enabling Harvey.
NBC News reports that the list of Weinstein accusers has gone beyond 60, and highlights the allegations of another woman with a story almost identical to Huett’s. How long before this becomes a class-action suit — and how long before it spreads to other Hollywood production companies? The discovery phase alone of a class-action suit would be the most trenchant product the film industry has produced in years.