AceShowbiz - U.S. appeals court judges have revived actress Ashley Judd's sexual harassment lawsuit against fallen movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
The producer was slapped with legal action in April 2018, when Judd accused him of blacklisting her and sabotaging her career after she refused his sexual advances at a hotel meeting in the mid-1990s.
The "Double Jeopardy" star referred to comments made by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson in late 2017, when he confessed to dropping Judd from casting consideration for his 2001 fantasy blockbuster, based on remarks Weinstein had allegedly made about her lack of professionalism.
Weinstein denied the allegations, and months later, his lawyers succeeded in having the sexual harassment claims struck from the California court dispute, after the judge declared Judd did not have a professional relationship with the Hollywood heavyweight at the time.
However, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision on Wednesday, July 29, ruling that California's sexual harassment law, which covers 'casting couch' situations, in which sexual favors are solicited in exchange for acting work, can be cited in Judd's case.
"Their relationship consisted of an inherent power imbalance wherein Weinstein was uniquely situated to exercise coercion or leverage over Judd by virtue of his professional position and influence as a top producer in Hollywood," Ninth Circuit Judge Mary Murguia wrote.
"We have no difficulty concluding that the California Supreme Court would reach the same conclusion, obviating the need to certify the question. Therefore, the district court erred when it dismissed Judd's sexual harassment claim..."
Celebrating the news, Judd's attorney, Ted Boutrous, issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
It read, "This is an important victory not only for Ms. Judd but for all victims of sexual harassment in professional relationships."
"The court correctly holds that California law forbids sexual harassment and retaliation by film producers and others in powerful positions, even outside the employment context, and we look forward to pursuing this claim against Mr Weinstein at trial."
Weinstein's reputation was destroyed in October 2017, when dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against the 68-year-old.
He was convicted on rape and sexual assault charges earlier this year and is currently serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison.