Disney Seeks Out of Class Action Over Harvey Weinstein Misconduct

Disney contends that allegations only serve to highlight Weinstein's "autonomy" when Miramax was a subsidiary.
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Harvey Weinstein

The Walt Disney Company demands to be dismissed from a putative class action brought by alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein. On Friday, the studio giant argued that the suing women haven't sufficiently detailed the case for Disney's liability.

Caitlin Dulany, Larissa Gomes and Melissa Thompson are the three lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. On June 1, they filed claims in New York at a time when a similar class action from other women had stalled thanks to the bankruptcy of The Weinstein Company. The other case was unpaused after Harvey Weinstein's employment deal became public record, but this second case does at least have one distinguishing element — the involvement of Disney, which once owned Weinstein's studio Miramax Film.

According to the plaintiffs, Disney should be held responsible for negligent supervision. The lawsuit alleges that Disney "knew or should have known not only that Weinstein was unfit or incompetent to work directly with women and posed a particular risk of sexually harassing and assaulting them, but also that this unfitness created a particular risk."

The complaint also points to Weinstein's employment agreements where Disney is defined as a "co-obligor" of Miramax.

In a motion to dismiss, Disney argues the allegations aren't supported with facts, nor have the plaintiffs pierced the corporate veil.

"Notably absent are alleged facts that Disney employed Weinstein, that Disney knew or should have known about Weinstein’s alleged misconduct or that Weinstein’s alleged misconduct involved Disney’s premises or property," states Disney's memorandum. "Allegations about Disney’s former subsidiary, Miramax, are irrelevant to the claims against Disney because Miramax and Disney are separate corporate entities."

Disney, represented by Cravath attorneys Evan Chesler and J. Wesley Earnhardt, contends that allegations only serve to highlight Weinstein's "autonomy" when Miramax was a subsidiary in the 1990s and early 2000s, and that even if a connection could be established, the negligent supervision claim is time-barred by a three-year statute of limitations.