Harvey Weinstein will make no "admission of fault, liability or wrongdoing" to any person who collects from a $17 million fund set up for his victims. Those victims will also have to agree to absolve Weinstein to collect their settlement, which is being entirely funded by insurance companies.
These are just a few of the slights these women are dealing with after Weinstein managed to win two key legal battles over these brave silence breakers. First, the fund created to pay out his victims was slashed down to $17 million by a judge, and then ruled that Weinstein will be allowed to carry out Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings in distributing the money from that fund.
To collect that money, these women — some of whom alleged they were raped and assaulted multiple times by the mogul — must sign a document that states: "By entering into this Agreement, no Released Party is admitting any wrongdoing, liability, fault or violation of law and no Insurance Company is admitting coverage under any policy of insurance. Rather, the Parties agree and acknowledge that (i) Debtors, the Former Representatives and Harvey Weinstein deny all allegations and Claims asserted against them, (ii) this Agreement is without prejudice to any coverage position taken or that may be taken by any Insurance Company, any Former Representative or Harvey Weinstein in the event this Agreement does not become effective, and (iii) the Parties are entering into the Settlement to avoid the risk, burden, and expense of continued litigation."
This also means that these women will not get their day in court to testify about the alleged harassment or abuse they endured in front of a jury. And two of Weinstein's most famous accusers cannot even collect from the fund, with the agreement stating: "Harvey Weinstein releases the Insurance Companies for all Claims arising in the Ashley Judd Case and the Rose McGowan Case."
That fund was initially going to contain $40 million, and then went down to $25 million and $18.875 million before it was cut further last week. OK! obtained a court filing from one group of non-settling plaintiffs, who note: "The amount of the settlement cannot be proposed, nor agreed to, until the number of victims are known. Otherwise, how can any assessment be made that the agreement adequately compensates these women? Normally, proofs of claims are filed up to the bar date, and then an amount of settlement is agreed upon. As referenced above, there may be hundreds or thousands of claims here."
The attorneys for these nine women argued that Chapter 11 proceedings could potentially pit these women against one another, and noted that the offenses were so varied it would be irresponsible to lump them all together into one group. Chapter 7 proceedings would remedy that problem, they argued, by allowing victims to pursue individual claims against Weinstein and the company.
The judge ruled against that argument, however, noting that the women were not forced to collect from the fund and could all drop out to seek individual claims. She also argued that it was the women who would be voting to accept or reject the parameters of this fund. Attorneys for the non-settling plaintiffs felt that this was also a problem because those who suffered minor offenses would be more likely to approve this process than those who suffered more serious assaults.
The number of women who are seeking compensation is unknown, so it is not clear if a majority of the women would accept this settlement. Some of the women think this is the best case scenario and are happy with the settlement, though they all admit their fight is not over.
Money is also a key factor for many of these women who have been forced to retain lawyers for three years to get to this point. The fear of three more years of legal bills may lead a number of these victims to take what they can now rather than continue to deplete their own funds in hopes of a bigger pay out down the road.
No one has been more vocal about this than Alexandra Canosa, who scoffed at what was then a $25 million settlement plan in an interview with New York last year. "I think the settlement overall just feels like an extension of his abuse, just like with more of an official stamp. I personally feel really bullied into a settlement," explained Canosa at the time.
"I feel like I’m bullied into a settlement, and if I don’t take it, I’ve been told specifically that the money left on the table by me, rather than being redistributed to other victims, would actually go into his pot to use to fund his defense against me — which on its own feels spiteful, frankly. It’s like I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t. If I join, I have to concede; I have to acknowledge that I will never get an admission of guilt from him. There will be no culpability."