The first lawsuit to come out of the more than 50 allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual harassment or assault has been filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
On Tuesday, actress and model Dominique Huett sued The Weinstein Company for $5 million for negligence in supervising Weinstein during his encounters with women after the company allegedly was made aware of prior accusations against him. The complaint claims that, while at a business meeting at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in 2010, Weinstein lured Huett to his hotel room, where he changed into a bathrobe and asked Huett to give him a massage. After protesting, Huett allegedly complied with his demands. Then, according to the complaint, Weinstein requested to perform oral sex on Huett, and, despite her denial of his request, Weinstein did so anyway. After, he masturbated in front of her until he achieved an orgasm, the complaint reads.
Huett's attorneys claim that, at the time of the alleged incident, The Weinstein Company was aware that its co-founder had a history of harassing women. "Prior to the sexual misconduct with Plaintiff, Defendant knew or had reason to believe Weinstein was likely to engage in sexual misconduct with women he came into contact with during the course and scope of his employment," the suit reads. "In particular, upon information and belief, Defendant knew or should have known that Weinstein would lure young aspiring actresses into compromising situations under the guise of business meetings."
The lawsuit additionally claims the company had a system in place to accommodate Weinstein's alleged abuse of women. Female employees joined meetings between women and Weinstein to serve as "honeypot[s]" who would make the women feel safe until Weinstein dismissed them, the complaint describes.
When reached by Deadline on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Weinstein denied all claims of non-consensual sex; The Weinstein Company refused to comment. While California's statute of limitation on negligence, retention, and supervision is two years, "that clock can be reset to start whenever the injured party gains knowledge of such negligence and then restarts to one-year [sic] from that point," writes Deadline reporter Dominic Patten.
The Weinstein Company was at least aware of Weinstein's confidential settlements with several women as of 2015, as the New York Times reported two weeks ago. According to the lawyer who represented Weinstein during his contract negotiations in 2015, the Weinstein Company and its board were made aware of "three or four confidential settlements with women."
And in an alleged 2015 employment contract for the producer, obtained by TMZ, one clause required Weinstein to reimburse The Weinstein Company if he "treated someone improperly in violation of the company's Code of Conduct" and paid any more settlements or judgments. Some publications have interpreted that clause as an implicit acknowledgement of Weinstein's inappropriate behavior.
Weinstein is currently being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department, the New York Police Department, and London's Metropolitan Police. Huett's lead attorney, John Herman, told Deadline that he had not contacted the LAPD about the lawsuit.