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On Saturday, Harvey Weinstein made a move to pause a lawsuit brought by Alexandra Canosa, a former associate producer on the Netflix show Marco Polo, who alleges being the victim of sexual harassment.
“Mr. Weinstein should not be forced to make the difficult choice between being prejudiced in the civil litigation, if he asserts his Fifth Amendment privilege, or from being prejudiced in the criminal litigation if he … waives that privilege in the civil litigation,” states a motion.
Weinstein is facing a wrath of litigation, and he previously attempted to stay lawsuits brought by insurers. This is his first move to pause a lawsuit from one of his female accusers.
According to a declaration from Weinstein attorney Benjamin Brafman, New York prosecutors have provided formal notice that they will seek to introduce evidence of “uncharged similar acts of sexual conduct at trial” and that means Weinstein “cannot give testimony and evidence concerning these allegations regardless of whether [Canosa] is involved” in the criminal case.
Weinstein is leaning on precedent in the Bill Cosby scandal. His attorneys point to how judges overseeing civil lawsuits against Cosby granted a motion for a stay.
“The California Superior Court’s decision in Judy Huth v. William Henry Cosby, Jr. is instructive,” states the motion. “The defendant in that case was in a very similar situation as Mr. Weinstein, in that he was being sued civilly and criminally prosecuted for sexual assault. In Huth, the court granted defendant’s motion to stay pending a resolution of a related criminal proceeding over plaintiff’s objection that the facts and allegations in the civil case were distinct from those in the criminal matter.”
The Canosa lawsuit was previously stayed not because of the criminal case but rather because of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of The Weinstein Company. (In her legal action, Canosa is also suing Weinstein’s former studio, along with members of its board.)
Canosa got the case unpaused, but not before attorneys for other women suing TWC argued against a lifting of the stay on the grounds that the company’s insurers weren’t picking up the tab for defending this one and it would deplete resources, potentially hampering their own recovery.
So far, Weinstein hasn’t moved for a similar pause in the class action, but the newest move in the Canosa case could portend that’s about to occur.
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