Actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to come forward to accuse disgraced megaproducer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, filed a lawsuit against him in April 2018 that included multiple claims. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed her sexual harassment claim, but said she could proceed with a defamation case.
In the lawsuit, Judd accused Weinstein of smearing her reputation in 1998 after she says she refused his sexual advances in a hotel room a couple of years earlier. The producer deliberately torpedoed her potential role in “Lord of the Rings” by discouraging director Peter Jackson from casting her, she says.
Citing California law prohibiting harassing sexual advances “in a business, service or professional relationship,” Judd sued Weinstein for sexual harassment and defamation. On Wednesday, the judge threw out the harassment claim, saying it wasn’t covered under California statutes.
“U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled that Judd’s relationship as an actress with the Hollywood producer was not covered under California law, nor under a 2019 amendment,” Reuters reports. Gutierrez noted in the decision that he was not ruling on whether or not Weinstein sexually harassed Judd “in the colloquial sense of the term,” the news agency notes.
Despite tossing out the harassment claim, Judge Gutierrez gave Judd the greenlight on moving forward with a civil lawsuit on her defamation claim.
Guiterrez’s ruling on Judd’s sexual harassment claim agrees with a previous ruling in July, which likewise determined that California law didn’t apply, USA Today notes.
Despite the setback, Judd’s lawyer remains confident that the actress will prevail in her three remaining claims.
“Nothing about today’s ruling changes that Ms. Judd’s case is moving forward on multiple claims,” Theodore Boutrous Jr., the lead lawyer representing Judd’s case, said in a statement reported by The New York Times Wednesday. “While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision as to the one claim it ruled on today, we look forward to pursuing the three claims for relief that the Court has already ruled can move forward.”
Judd’s defamation claim against Weinstein stems from a comment Jackson made in an interview following the flood of accusations against Weinstein in which he said the producer’s company, Miramax, discouraged him from hiring both Judd and actress Mira Sorvino as part of what he described as a “smear campaign.”
“I recall Miramax telling us they were a nightmare to work with and we should avoid them at all costs,” Jackson said in an interview in December 2017. “At the time, we had no reason to question what these guys were telling us. But in hindsight, I realize that this was very likely the Miramax smear campaign in full swing. I now suspect we were fed false information about both of these talented women.”