Judge approves Weinstein bankruptcy plan with £12m for victims

A US judge has approved a revised Weinstein Co bankruptcy plan that provides about 35 million dollars (£25 million) for creditors, with roughly half that amount going to women who have accused disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The judge in Delaware approved the plan after a hearing on Monday, overruling objections by lawyers representing producer Alexandra Canosa and actresses Wedil David and Dominique Huett, who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, and a former Weinstein Co employee who claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment.

The settlement amount is 11.5 million dollars (£8.3 million) less than under a previous plan, which was scrapped after a federal judge in New York refused to approve a proposed 19 million dollars (£13 million) settlement between Weinstein and some of his accusers.

The settlement in that purported class-action lawsuit was a key component of the initial bankruptcy plan.

Harvey Weinstein arriving at a courthouse in Manhattan in February last year
Harvey Weinstein arriving at a courthouse in Manhattan in February last year (John Minchillo/AP)

Roughly half of the approved settlement, about 17 million dollars (£12 million), is allocated for a single sexual misconduct claims fund, down from about 25.7 million dollars (£18.7 million) allocated for three separate categories of sexual misconduct claims under the previous plan.

Another 8.4 million dollars (£6.1 million) will go to a liquidation trust for resolving non-sexual misconduct claims, and 9.7 million dollars (£7 million) will be used to reimburse defence costs for former company officials other than Weinstein. The plan also releases those officials from liability for tort claims related to Weinstein’s conduct.

Holders of sexual misconduct claims will receive 100% of the liquidated value of their claims if they agree to release Weinstein from all legal claims.

A claimant who elects not to release Weinstein but to retain the option to sue him in another court would receive 25% of the value of her bankruptcy claim.

According to court records, 55 sexual misconduct claims were filed in the bankruptcy case, with 39 holders of such claims voting in favour of the plan and eight voting against it. Among holders of general unsecured claims, 81 – or 96% – voted for the plan.

The sexual misconduct claims will be evaluated on a points system allowing a maximum 100 points. That includes up to 60 points for physical sexual misconduct claims, a maximum 30 points for claims of non-physical sexual misconduct, and up to 10 points for claims of emotional distress and economic harm.

A claims examiner will have the authority to adjust point totals up or down based on factors such as age, corroborating evidence, prior or pending litigation, and applicable statutes of limitation.

Lawyers for the women objecting to the plan described it in a court filing last month as unfair and coercive.

“The point award system pits women against women competing for a limited recovery from the pathetically meagre sexual misconduct claims fund,” they wrote.

“There is nothing fair about a plan that requires a rape victim to release her rapist in order to receive a full reward from the sexual misconduct fund. There is nothing fair in re-victimizing her financially by reducing her award by 75% if she does not agree to release her rapist.”

Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted by a New York jury for the rape and sexual assault of two women.

He has also been charged in California with rape, forcible oral copulation, sexual battery by restraint and sexual penetration by use of force. Those allegations involve five women and stem from events in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from 2004 to 2013.

Richmond and Twickenham Times | UK News