Women suing Harvey Weinstein are using a gangster law originally designed to take down the Mafia

Women suing Harvey Weinstein are using a gangster law originally designed to take down the Mafia

Six women on Wednesday filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the companies associated with him, alleging that their coordinated efforts to cover up a pattern of egregious sexual misconduct amounted to racketeering.

The women accused Weinstein, The Weinstein Company, members of its board, and Miramax of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act, a law passed in 1970 that was designed to prosecute massive criminal enterprises like the Mafia.

But legal experts say a class-action racketeering suit against Weinstein and his co-defendants will likely be a complex, lengthy process.

The RICO claim's primary value is to bring publicity to the lawsuit.
"In my opinion, the RICO claim's primary value is to bring publicity to the lawsuit," Jeffrey Grell, a University of Minnesota law professor who has written a book on RICO, told Business Insider. He added that the plaintiffs would have better standing to sue over personal injury — tort — claims.

"This is assault, it's battery, it's intentional infliction of emotional distress," he said. "I tell people when they present [racketeering] claims like this to me, 'Hey, if you need to get from point A to point B, why buy a jet when you can get to point B by riding a bike?' And the tort claims are like riding the bicycle."

Though racketeering claims can be more complicated than torts, successful suits come with significantly higher damages, Morgan Cloud, an Emory University law professor who has studied RICO, told Business Insider in an email.

Source: Business Insider