A federal judge has ruled that Ashley Judd can move forward with her lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, although the parameters of her suit have been narrowed.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez has ruled that Judd’s suit against the disgraced movie mogul can proceed; however, the 50-year-old actress will only be permitted to move forward with her claims of defamation and tortious interference, with the judge rejecting her claim of sexual harassment.
Judd’s lawsuit stems from a 2017 interview with director Peter Jackson, who claimed that he was instructed by Weinstein’s camp that Judd and fellow actress Mira Sorvino were “a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs… in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing,” said Jackson. “I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women — and as a direct result their names were removed from our casting list.”
Sorvino and Judd have both alleged that Weinstein used his clout to deliberately harm their careers after each actress rebuffed his sexual advances.
The judge’s decision arrived the day after Weinstein’s attorneys presented their arguments that Judd’s case should be dismissed entirely.
In rejecting Judd’s sexual harassment complaint, the judge wrote that he doubts the specific statute evoked in her lawsuit “can ever properly be applied to a relationship between a potential employer and a prospective employee.”
He did, however, allow her to proceed with her claim of tortious interference, supporting Judd to move forward with her allegation that Weinstein badmouthing Judd to Jackson cost her a potential role in a film that went on to become an Oscar-winning blockbuster.
“At this point, no evidence has been presented about whether it is common in the industry for actors to inquire into why they were not cast, and further, no evidence has been presented as to whether Jackson and Walsh would have informed Plaintiff about Defendant’s statements had she asked them why she was not given a role in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films,” states the judge’s order. “Taking Plaintiff’s allegations as true — as the Court must at this stage — the Court concludes that she has raised a plausible inference that she would not have been able to learn about Defendant’s statements during the limitations period, even if she had conducted a diligent investigation.”
In addition, the judge ruled that Judd’s defamation claim can likewise move ahead, despite the argument of Weinstein’s lawyers that his claim to Jackson that he had “bad experiences” with Judd was simply an opinion. The judge, however, didn’t see things that way, buying into Judd’s assertion that “she can prove these statements false because Defendant had no previous professional interaction with her and her short two-day experience working on the Miramax film ‘Smoke’ (where she alleges that she did not interact with Defendant) was uniformly positive. The Court agrees with Plaintiff.”