A federal judge in California has dismissed actress Ashley Judd’s sexual harassment lawsuit against disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein on technical grounds, because the suit did not fall within the scope of the statute she sued under.
In a decision issued Wednesday, Judge Philip Gutierrez let stand Judd’s defamation claim against Weinstein, as well as claims of economic interference and violation of the state’s unfair competition law.
Judd filed the lawsuit in April claiming that more than in 1998, when she was in the infancy of her career, Weinstein invited her to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for a meeting to discuss possible roles, where he wore a bathrobe, asked her first for a massage and, when she rebuffed him, to watch him shower.
After rejecting his overtures, she says she was blacklisted from the Lord of the Rings trilogy when Weinstein told producers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh she was a “nightmare” to work with and should be avoided “at all costs.”
Gutierrez initially dismissed the sexual harassment claim in September because he was skeptical that the statue under which Judd filed the suit could be applied to her case or any other involving a “potential employer and a prospective employee.”
He permitted Judd to take another pass at making an argument for the claim but determined Wednesday that she had not met the bar under the California law or a recently enacted amendment to the statute.
In his ruling, Gutierrez makes clear that the court is not ruling on the facts of the case, whether Judd was “sexually harassed in the colloquial sense of the term,” but if he has the standing to file the lawsuit.
“The only question presented by the current motion is whether the harassment that Plaintiff allegedly suffered falls within the scope of the California statute that she has sued under,” the judge said.
Judd was one of the first Hollywood stars to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, allegations that turned him into a pariah who is fighting criminal charges stemming from other women’s claims.
The decision in the civil suit comes as Weinstein is preparing for a criminal trial in New York on multiple counts of sex abuse that is expected to go to court later this year.