Judge Lets Ashley Judd Sue Harvey Weinstein For Defamation & Unfair Business Practices, Not Sexual Harassment
A federal judge in California ruled on Wednesday that Ashley Judd can proceed with her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, although she will only be able to sue the disgraced Hollywood producer for defamation and not for sexual harassment.
Judge Philip S. Gutierrez decided that Judd can sue Weinstein for defamation, unfair business practices and interference with economic advantage, otherwise known as tortious interference.
The 50-year-old actress alleged Weinstein blackballed her from the film industry after she rejected his sexual advances. Judd claimed the 66-year-old producer — who was barred from the Motion Picture Academy last year and arrested for rape in New York in May — made physical advances toward her in a hotel room approximately 21 years ago.
At the time, Judd was reportedly in talks to potentially star in The Lord of the Rings. However, the actress claimed in a lawsuit in April that Weinstein spoke negatively about her reputation and dissuaded director Peter Jackson from offering her a role in the film. Judd was among the first of dozens of famous women to reveal that the mogul sexually harassed or assaulted them, in her case by attempting to massage her and forcing her to watch him shower. She served as one of the leading voices of the #MeToo movement after revealing her experiences with Weinstein for the first time in a television interview in December 2017.
Earlier this year, Jackson revealed in an interview that Miramax — the film production company Weinstein and his brother Bob co-founded in 1979 — had recommended him not to hire Judd, whom Weinstein allegedly said was a “nightmare to work with.”
Judd said she just played a two-day role in the 1995 Miramax-produced movie Smoke and that she never interacted directly with Weinstein during filming. Thus, the producer’s remarks were found to be defamatory.
Weinstein’s attorneys reportedly claimed that their client’s behavior could not be considered sexual harassment, and tried to toss Judd’s whole lawsuit after citing the statute of limitations.
Gutierrez allowed Judd’s lawyers a chance to amend the harassment allegation against Weinstein. According to NBC News, an amended complaint has been set for Oct. 19.
“The law should not tolerate this abuse of power to damage another’s career,” said one of Judd’s attorneys, per NBC News.