A lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein alleging the Hollywood mogul sexually assaulted a Toronto actress nearly two decades ago is being allowed to proceed even though lawyers have not been able to track him down.
The woman’s proposed statement of claim says she was sexually assaulted by Weinstein twice, while she had a part in a movie being filmed in and around Toronto. The claim also said she reported the alleged assaults to Toronto police on Oct. 23.
The actress, only known as Jane Doe, is seeking $14 million in damages, claiming she has suffered mental distress, extreme social anxiety and depression, as well as social isolation and feelings of guilt, worthlessness and shame as a result of what happened.
The document also names Miramax – the production company Weinstein and his brother co-chaired – as well as parent company Walt Disney Co. and Weinstein’s assistant. Miramax and Disney have been served notice of the action.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and no statements of defence have been filed.
On Monday, a hearing was held in a Toronto court, where the woman’s lawyers sought to move ahead with the claim without using her name.
One of the woman’s lawyers, Alexander Smith of the law firm Henein Hutchison, said the legal team has done everything to serve Weinstein and his assistant.
Smith said they tried and failed to serve Weinstein at his home in Westport, Conn., and believe he could also be in Phoenix, Ariz., or somewhere in Europe. They also repeatedly tried to serve Weinstein’s former assistant at her office and through her lawyer but have not succeeded so far.
Smith said Weinstein is aware of the claim against him, but since the plaintiff’s lawyers were not able to serve him, it left the woman with the following options: proceed with her real name, drop the case or be delayed in getting therapy.
Smith said the woman will proceed with seeing a therapist in order gather evidence of harm for the lawsuit against Weinstein.
The judge has allowed the woman to go ahead with the claim because her lawyers have tried everything to serve him.
The judge also said the legal team has to keep trying to serve him, but granted a substitutional service order, which allows the woman to move forward with the case – even if they can’t find or he is avoiding being served.
A substitutional service occurs if a party appears to be avoiding being served court documents, then a request may be made to mail it to known address.
The case will return to court on Dec. 1.