Reprinted from The Hollywood Reporter by Eriq Gardner on July 15, 2020.
The news cycle turns pretty swiftly these days. But before everyone moves past the rejection July 14 of a nearly $19 million settlement fund for Harvey Weinstein accusers, it’s worth taking a closer look at the remarkable development of a New York federal judge calling the deal “obnoxious.”
It’s not just that this settlement was supposed to be part of the justice solution for dozens of victims of the biggest sexual abuse scandal in Hollywood history. (Harvey Weinstein likely spending the rest of his life in prison being the other big part.) It’s that this settlement took two years to put together and blew up within days upon announcement. And it’s even more than that. This was a settlement that involved attorneys at some of the biggest law firms in America, plus sophisticated insurers, plus the top law enforcement official in New York, and it couldn’t even get past the preliminary stage of a judge’s review. In short, an army of lawyers got together in an effort to achieve resolution, and after dozens of in-person mediation sessions and hundreds of phone calls, they ended up at a place that was completely off track.
So what went wrong? And what does the future hold?
For answers, we must first take a trip back to the months after journalists at The New York Times and New Yorker first detailed Harvey Weinstein’s abusive behavior toward many women in the entertainment industry. The exposés led to a trickle of lawsuits, then a flood, then a putative class action in December 2017 against Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Company and its board members. …