A newly filed racketeering lawsuit claims several law firms, including K&L Gates and Boies Schiller Flexner, were key participants in an alleged scheme to cover up widespread sexual misconduct on the part of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Six women, represented by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, filed a proposed class action in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, accusing Weinstein, the Weinstein Co., the company’s board members, Miramax Film Corp. and others, of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The complaint parallels a similar one filed last month in California, with both complaints alleging that advisers and others in Weinstein’s orbit—referred as members of a “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise”—helped “facilitate and conceal” a pattern of unwanted sexual conduct perpetrated by the film producer.
Prominent litigator David Boies and his law firm Boies Schiller Flexner had already been in the public spotlight over his work for Weinstein following a New Yorker report that the lawyer contracted with an Israeli private intelligence agency, Black Cube, as it was trying to derail a potential New York Times story about Weinstein’s predatory behavior toward women. That scrutiny continued this week when Boies’ actions came up again in a lengthy New York Times article looking at people who helped Weinstein keep his misconduct under wraps.
But the successive RICO suits also suggest that the fallout from the Weinstein scandal is expanding to include other legal advisers.
Although it does not specifically name lawyers or law firms as defendants, Wednesday’s complaint casts the lawyers and law firms surrounding Weinstein—including Boies Schiller Flexner, K&L Gates, U.K.-based BCL Burton Copeland, and Israel-based Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co.—as central figures in the alleged scheme to cover up his misconduct. The firms are described as “co-conspirators” along with others that included Weinstein’s business associates and private intelligence firms.
“The law firm participants provided cover and shield to the Weinstein participants by contracting with the intelligence participants on behalf of the Weinstein participants and permitting the Weinstein participants to protect evidence of Weinstein’s misconduct under the guise of the attorney-client privilege or the doctrine of attorney work product when that was not the case,” the complaint said. “The law firm participants also approved the intelligence participants’ ‘operational methodologies,’ which were illegal.”
In an emailed statement on Thursday, K&L Gates described the complaint’s allegations about the firm as untrue and denied that it ever worked for Weinstein.
“We are aware of the lawsuits filed against Harvey Weinstein and others that mention K&L Gates. K&L Gates is not named as a defendant in the lawsuits but the suits attempt to claim that the firm was involved in a scheme to facilitate or cover up Mr. Weinstein’s activities. The claims relating to K&L Gates are false. K&L Gates has never represented Mr. Weinstein or any other person or entity concerning investigations or inquiries relating to Mr. Weinstein,” the firm’s statement said.
Representatives for the other law firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Previously, Boies Schiller provided a statement to affiliate publication The Recorder indicating that it would refrain from commenting on Weinstein-related matters in connection with a request from the producer’s current defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman.