On September 19, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez issued a 15-page order that dismissed a sexual harassment claim filed by Ashley Judd (“Judd”) against Harvey Weinstein (“Weinstein”), but allowed her to maintain her intentional interference and defamation claims claim based upon a smear campaign launched by Weinstein after she rejected Weinstein’s sexual advances.
Judd’s accusations involve Weinstein allegedly sexually harassing her during a meeting in a hotel room and thereafter defaming her by telling “The Lord of the Rings” director, Peter Jackson, that she was a “nightmare” to work with; thus depriving her of the role in the blockbuster trilogy. Judge Gutierrez explained that he is skeptical that the statute being invoked (California Civil Code Section 51.9- dealing with sexual harassment at the workplace) “can ever properly be applied to a relationship between a potential employer and a prospective employee.” The Judge found that Judd’s single meeting with Weinstein to discuss potential roles in films doesn’t fit the type of employer/employee relationship where someone provides professional services on an ongoing basis — where sexual harassment in the workplace can take place, and which is the subject of Cal. Civil Code 51.9.
Judd’s claims for defamation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage will proceed based upon the impact that Weinstein’s “blacklisting” had on Judd’s career.
Judd is represented by Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., Theane Evangelis, Michael H. Dore, Lauren M. Blas and Lori C. Arakaki of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
Weinstein is represented by Phyllis Kupferstein of Kupferstein Manuel LLP.
The case is Ashley Judd v. Harvey Weinstein, case number 2:18-cv-05724, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
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