Los Angeles: Disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s lawyers have urged a judge to throw out a lawsuit that accuses him of blackballing actress Ashley Judd after she refused a sexual advance. Judd sued Weinstein in April, alleging that he harmed her career by dissuading director Peter Jackson from casting her in “The Lord of the Rings” in 1998, reports variety.com.
She alleges that Weinstein was retaliating for her rebuff during a meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.
In the motion to dismiss, Weinstein’s attorneys argue that his alleged conduct did not amount to sexual harassment, and that Judd’s allegations are barred by the statute of limitations.
Judd has said she only became aware of Weinstein’s actions after Jackson gave an interview in December, in which he claimed that Miramax had engaged in a “smear campaign” against Judd and actress Mira Sorvino.
Jackson recalled being told that both women were a “nightmare to work with,” and said that he then dropped them from consideration for the film.
Weinstein’s attorneys, Phyllis Kupferstein and Cynthia L. Zedalis, argue that even if Weinstein did say that Judd was a “nightmare,” it was an opinion and is therefore not defamatory.
“Plaintiff may dispute she was difficult to work with but, like beauty, the experience is in the eye of the beholder,” the attorneys write, adding references in a footnote to other stories of Judd being difficult.
“Unlike statements that a particular actor could not remember his or her lines, would be late to set, or required many takes – all of which are susceptible to proof – describing Plaintiff as a ‘nightmare’ and cautioning others to ‘avoid’ her does not support a defamation claim.”
The attorneys also contend that Weinstein’s alleged sexual conduct was not harassment because it was not “severe or pervasive.” Judd has said she deflected Weinstein’s advance by saying she would let him touch her only if he got her an Academy Award.
Weinstein’s attorneys argue that his subsequent efforts to live up to the “bargain” by trying to cast her in Oscar-worthy roles shows that he was not trying to sabotage her career, reports variety.com.
Theodore Boutrous, Judd’s attorney, called Weinstein’s arguments “offensive” in a statement on Wednesday.
“Mr. Weinstein’s arguments seeking to escape the consequences of his despicable misconduct are not only baseless, they are offensive,” Boutrous said. “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.”