A federal judge in Los Angeles has dismissed Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment claim against Harvey Weinstein but said she could proceed with a defamation claim against him.
Judd had accused Weinstein of defaming her in 1998 after she refused his sexual advances.
In her lawsuit, filed in April 2018, the ‘Double Jeopardy’ actress accused Weinstein of smearing her reputation by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her in his blockbuster movie franchise ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
Judd was one of the first women in October 2017 to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
She had accused the Hollywood movie mogul of sexual harassment in violation of a California law barring such conduct by a person in, a “business, service or professional relationship” with another.
Judge Philip Gutierrez said he was not determining whether Judd was sexually harassed by Weinstein “in the colloquial sense of the term”.
He said Judd’s relationship as an actress with the film producer was not covered under the California statute she had sued under, nor under a 2019 amendment.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Phyllis Kupferstein, said: “We have said from the beginning that this claim was unjustified, and we are pleased that the court saw it as we did.
“We believe that we will ultimately prevail on her remaining claims.”
But Judd’s attorney, Theodore Boutrous, said the ruling does not upend Judd’s complaint.
He said: “Nothing about today’s ruling changes that Ms. Judd’s case is moving forward on multiple claims.
“We look forward to pursuing the three claims for relief that the Court has already ruled can move forward.”
Judd’s lawsuit had alleged Weinstein “cornered her in a hotel room in 1997 under the guise of discussing business”.
When she refused his demands, he retaliated by making what she called “baseless smears” against her to “Lord of the Rings” director Jackson, and she lost a part in the movie.
Weinstein has denied defaming Judd or interfering with her career.
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