Ashley Judd can pursue Weinstein defamation case, judge says
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Ashley Judd may pursue her allegations that Harvey Weinstein blackballed her after she declined his sexual advances.
But Judge Philip S. Gutierrez dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment claim against the disgraced producer, finding that it would be unprecedented to apply the statute to a prospective employer.
“We are very pleased that today the District Court held that Ashley Judd can proceed with her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein and continue her effort to vindicate the wrongs he committed against her among so many other women,” said Judd’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous. “The law should not tolerate this abuse of power to damage another’s career.”
Boutrous said the case will now proceed to discovery, including taking Weinstein’s deposition.
Judd filed suit in April, alleging that Weinstein smeared her reputation and dissuaded Peter Jackson from hiring her on “The Lord of the Rings.” Judd was one of the first to speak out against Weinstein, telling the New York Times that he invited her to a hotel room in late 1996 or early 1997, tried to massage her, and asked her to watch him take a shower. She refused and walked out.
Judd says she was up for a part in “The Lord of the Rings” two years later, but did not get it. After the Weinstein scandal broke last fall, Jackson said in an interview that Miramax had discouraged him from hiring Judd and actress Mira Sorvino, describing them as a “nightmare to work with.”
Judd argued that she only had a two-day part in the 1995 Miramax film “Smoke,” which was positive, and during which she had no interaction with Weinstein, and that therefore Weinstein’s comments were defamatory.
In a motion to dismiss, Weinstein’s lawyers argued that his alleged conduct did not rise to the level of sexual harassment and that the entire suit should be thrown out due to the statute of limitations. They also claim that Weinstein tried to cast Judd in other roles, proving he did not intend to harm her career, and that Weinstein’s purported statement that Judd was a “nightmare” was an opinion, and therefore not a provable fact subject to a defamation claim.