Ashley Judd's suit against Harvey Weinstein was revived by an appeals court

By Ale Russian
Updated July 29, 2020 07:03 PM
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Ashley Judd has won an appeal to continue her sexual harassment suit against Harvey Weinstein.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision that threw out Judd's claim on the basis that she was not Weinstein's employee at the time Judd claimed the now-convicted rapist sexually harassed her, Variety reports.

The new ruling finds that he did in fact exert power over her career when they met at the Peninsula Hotel in the mid-1990s, where Judd claimed he harassed her. Judd, 52, claimed Weinstein, 68, lured her to his hotel room and asked her to watch him shower and tried to give her a massage.

In a statement obtained by PEOPLE, Judd's lawyer, Theodore J. Boutrous, said, "This is an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all the victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships."

"The court correctly holds that California law forbids sexual harassment and retaliation by film producers and others in powerful positions, even outside the employment context, and we look forward to pursuing this claim against Mr. Weinstein at trial," the statement concluded.

Judge Mary H. Murguia wrote for the panel, "(T)heir relationship consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood. Therefore, the district court erred when it dismissed Judd’s sexual harassment claim.”

The original claim was filed on April 2018 and came after reports that Weinstein succeeded in dissuading director Peter Jackson and screenwriter Fran Walsh from casting Judd in their Lord of the Rings movies after she says she rebuffed his sexual advances.

“My legal complaint,” Judd tweeted after filing the suit, along with a link to the complaint. “I am suing for economic remedy due to damage done to my career as a result of sexual harassment. Financial recuperation goes to @TIMESUPNOW @TIMESUPLDF so that American workers who experience sexual harassment & retaliation have help.”

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Judd was the first actress to go on the record with New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, who wrote one of the articles that led to Weinstein’s downfall.

Citing Jackson’s admission that Weinstein’s warning influenced his casting decision, the complaint argues that “with [Weinstein’s] baseless smears, [he] succeeded in blacklisting Ms. Judd and destroying her ability to work on what became a multibillion-dollar franchise with 17 Academy Award wins and many more nominations. He also effectively blocked Ms. Judd from future opportunities to work with Mr. Jackson and Ms. Walsh.”

Earlier this year, Weinstein was found guilty at a New York City court of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. He was later sentenced to 23 years in prison.

Although more than 80 women have claimed they were victimized by Weinstein, according to The New York Times, the charges in the Manhattan trial were focused on only two women: former production assistant Miriam “Mimi” Haleyi and aspiring actress Jessica Mann.