Attorneys for Harvey Weinstein have asked a federal judge in Los Angeles to dismiss a lawsuit against him by actress Ashley Judd, who alleges the disgraced producer worked to blackball her in Hollywood as punishment for rejecting his sexual advances.
In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Weinstein allege the claims in Judd’s lawsuit are barred by the statute of limitations, since they date back to the 1990s. The attorneys also contend that Weinstein’s alleged conduct toward Judd did not rise to the legal standard of sexual harassment, and comments he allegedly made about her cannot be construed as defamatory.
“Weinstein’s alleged unwanted sexual advances occurred on a single day and consisted of him asking to give plaintiff a massage, asking her to help him pick out clothes and asking her to watch him shower,” according to the dismissal motion. “These allegations fall far short of meeting the `pervasive or severe’ required element” of state law.
The motion also takes issue with Judd’s claim that Weinstein defamed her in 1998 by telling director Peter Jackson — who at the time was casting for his eventual Oscar-winning “Lord of the Rings” film series — that Judd was a “nightmare” to work with, thereby costing the actress a shot at appearing in the film. Weinstein’s attorneys allege there is a one-year statute of limitations for filing a defamation claim, and thus Judd “filed this action 20 years too late.” Judd has contended she did not learn of the remark until last year when Jackson mentioned it in an interview.
Judd claims Weinstein made his sexual advances toward her in 1997 at a Beverly Hills hotel. She has claimed that she managed to elude Weinstein by falsely telling him she would let him touch her when she wins an Oscar for one of his films.
Weinstein’s attorneys also contend in the dismissal motion that even if the producer did say Judd was difficult to work with, “the purported statements are not defamatory because they cannot be factually proven or disproven.”
“Whether an actor is a `nightmare’ to work with is an opinion not capable of being proven,” according to the motion. “… Plaintiff may dispute she was difficult to work with but, like beauty, the experience is in the eye of the beholder.”
Judd’s attorney, Ted Boutrous, responded angrily to the motion.
“Mr. Weinstein’s arguments seeking to escape the consequences of his despicable misconduct are baseless,” he said. “We look forward to opposing his flawed motion … and proving to a jury that Mr. Weinstein maliciously damaged Ms. Judd’s career because she resisted his sexual advances.”
Weinstein is facing sexual assault charges in New York, and he is under investigation by authorities in London and Los Angeles. He has repeatedly denied every engaging in non-consensual sexual activity.
Judd was one of the first women to come forward with her harassment allegations against Weinstein.