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The newest lawsuit and allegations against Harvey Weinstein related to the gross sexual misconduct that has recently come to light seeks to hold more than just the one Weinstein liable. The class action lawsuit claims that Harvey Weinstein, his brother, several associates, and The Weinstein Company, all had a hand in enabling Weinstein's misconduct.
The claims filed against the group allege racketeering, otherwise known as conspiratorial conduct. Essentially, the gist of the claim is that everyone around Weinstein knew what he was doing, and even helped him cover his tracks when victims were not compliant. The lawsuit asks the court to award over $5 million in damages.
Class Act or Consolidation?
When it comes to class action lawsuits, this one is atypical. While a class action alleging sexual harassment against a business is not that out of the ordinary, when you swap assault for harassment, it gets quite a bit trickier. However, the plaintiffs in the case are trying to prove that there was a whole "Weinstein sexual enterprise."
The difficulty with this type of a class action is partly due to the nature of a sexual assault claim being more based in the specific individual victim's facts rather than a potential systemic failure in a class action harassment case. Another problem with this sort of class action is that ascertaining who actually qualifies as a victim can be a less than certain process.
Though the case, at this stage, appears credible given the reports on Weinstein, getting the class action status approved by the court may be a herculean task. And if approved, that task could easily pale in comparison to figuring out how much each class member should receive in compensation if the class is certified and the case successful.
Notably, the lawsuit alleges that there are potentially hundreds of other victims. And, if the conspiracy does in fact run as deep as alleged, there are bound to be some pieces of documentary evidence that could be used to construct and define the class of victim plaintiffs. Fortunately for the six named plaintiffs in the case, even if a class is not certified by the court, their individual claims can be litigated individually, or potentially together in what is known as a consolidated action.