LOS ANGELES • The Weinstein Co faces its first lawsuit accusing it of failing to control ousted co-founder Harvey Weinstein, in a case brought by an actress who claims he sexually assaulted her.
Dominique Huett said the company "knew or should have known that Weinstein would lure young aspiring actresses into compromising situations under the guise of business meetings", according to a complaint filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
She alleged negligence and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
She said the studio's board of directors, including co-founder Bob Weinstein, were aware of Harvey Weinstein's propensity to engage in sexual misconduct before a meeting she had with him at the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel in 2010. He took her to his room and insisted that she give him a massage and let him perform oral sex on her, she said.
Allegations started to surface on Oct 5 of systematic sexual harassment by Weinstein and more than 50 women have accused him of harassing or assaulting them.
In an interview with the Financial Times published on Tuesday, his former assistant Zelda Perkins became the first of his former employees to break a non-disclosure agreement to speak out about harassment that she said she observed and experienced firsthand in the late 1990s.
The fallout from his decline has also engulfed his former employee Fabrizio Lombardo, who worked as the head of Miramax Italy.
Actress Asia Argento and former model Zoe Brock have alleged that Lombardo knowingly led them into private meetings in which Weinstein sexually harassed them nearly 20 years ago.
Argento said Lombardo sent her a threatening message on Oct 3, an image of an anonymous couple passed out on a bed with the words "Have You Ever Been This Drunk".
He told The New York Times he had sent her "funny videos" on two days as part of a mass forwarding by mistake.
Also on Tuesday, Toyota Motor's Lexus unit said it would end its partnership with Weinstein Co.
BLOOMBERG, WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES, REUTERS