Harvey Weinstein has filed a request to dismiss Ashley Judd's defamation and sexual harassment lawsuit against him, while her attorney calls the arguments made in it "offensive."
The actress, one of the first of more than 70 women to accuse the disgraced producer of sexual misconduct since October, sued the disgraced producer in April, claiming that in 1998, she was in talks with filmmaker Peter Jackson to play one of the major roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and that Weinstein "torpedoed" the opportunity by allegedly telling him and his team that she was a nightmare to work with. Her complaint had stated that Weinstein was "retaliating" against her for allegedly "rejecting his sexual demands approximately one year earlier, when he cornered her in a hotel room under the guise of discussing business."
This week, Weinstein's attorneys filed in a California federal court a motion to have the actress' lawsuit dismissed with prejudice. One of Judd's attorneys told E! News in response on Thursday, "Mr. Weinstein's arguments seeking to escape the consequences of his despicable misconduct are not only baseless, they are offensive. We look forward to opposing his flawed motion, moving forward with discovery into his outrageous behavior, and proving to a jury that Mr. Weinstein maliciously damaged Ms. Judd's career because she resisted his sexual advances."
Weinstein has denied claims of nonconsensual sex and denies being involved in the casting of the film. In his motion to dismiss, his lawyers say her "claims are time-barred" and that "her failure to file a timely complaint is due to her own lack of reasonable diligence and not any affirmative misconduct on Weinstein's part."
In her complaint, Judd's attorneys stated that the actress learned the reason why she was not cast in Lord of the Rings in December 2017. That month, Jackson said in an interview with New Zealand outlet Stuff that he had expressed interest in casting Judd and Mira Sorvino, who has also accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, in Lord of the Rings. He said, "I recall [Weinstein's company] Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs. This was probably in 1998."
Weinstein's rep had later said in a statement that casting for Lord of the Rings was done by a different film studio, New Line, and that while he and his brother Bob Weinstein were executive producers, they had no input into the casting. He also said that around the time of Lord of the Rings, Weinstein cast Ms. Judd in Frida and years later, in Crossing Over. He also denied blacklisting Sorvino.
"[Judd] certainly knew of the alleged sexual harassment and her injuries, if any, at the time of the hotel encounter," Weinstein's lawyers' motion to dismiss reads. "She further knew she was not cast in LOTR by the time filming began (the first film in the trilogy was released in December 2001), but claims she did not know until late 2017 that Weinstein was purportedly behind the casting decision. However, [Judd] admits she made no inquiries about why she was not cast in the film because she did not want to upset Jackson. Accordingly, her failure to file a timely complaint is due to her own lack of reasonable diligence and not any affirmative misconduct on Weinstein's part."
Weinstein's lawyers also argue in the documents that Judd's sexual harassment claim "fails to plead that she and Weinstein had the kind of professional relationship grounded in trust covered by the Act, or that the purported harassment she experienced from Weinstein was severe or pervasive—especially since [she] alleged it was a one-time event and she and Weinstein struck, in [her] words, 'a bargain' with respect to future sexual activity."
"With regard to her defamation claim, [Judd] has not alleged that the purported defamatory comments giving rise to her economic harm claims were even made by him," the documents state. "Even if they were, the statements were nonactionable opinions and, if anything, privileged remarks."