LOS ANGELES – A preliminary settlement was reached in a lawsuit alleging that James Franco intimidated students at an acting and film school he founded in unpaid and exploitative sexual situations, plaintiffs’ lawyers said on Saturday.
The two sides filed a joint status report in the Los Angeles Supreme Court telling a judge that a settlement had been reached on the class action lawsuit of former students at the now-defunct School 4, although elements of the lawsuit may survive.
The document was filed on February 11, but the settlement has not yet been reported.
Actresses and ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who first filed the lawsuit in 2019, have agreed to drop their individual claims under the agreement according to the court records. Their lawsuit alleged that Franco had urged his students to perform increasingly explicit sex scenes in front of the camera in an “orgy environment” that went well beyond what is acceptable on Hollywood film sets.
It was alleged that Franco “attempted to create a pipeline of young women who were exposed to his personal and professional sexual exploitation in the name of education” and that students were persuaded that roles in Franco’s films were available to them who would go.
The lawsuit said the incidents occurred in a sex scene master class taught by Franco at Studio 4, which opened in 2014 and closed in 2017.
The two sides had debated an agreement for several months and the progress of the lawsuit had been halted while they spoke.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys at Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP, affirmed the deal in a statement to The Associated Press on Saturday evening, adding that it will be “further remembered in a joint settlement agreement to be filed with the court later.” Date “, but without further comments or details.
Out-of-hours emails asking lawyers to comment on the defendants were not immediately returned.
In a previous court case, while praising the #MeToo movement that inspired the lawsuit, Franco’s lawyers described their claims as “false and flammable, legally unfounded and a class action lawsuit with the obvious aim of attracting as much public attention as possible” – hungry claimants. “They indicated that Tither-Kaplan had previously thanked him for the opportunity to work with Franco.
Franco’s production company Rabbit Bandini and its partners, including Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The allegations of sexual exploitation of other plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit are dismissed without prejudice, which means they may be re-filed, the joint status report said.
The fraud allegations made by these plaintiffs are “subject to limited clearance,” the document states, with no further details or clarification.
The document doesn’t show how much money can be involved in the deal.
Prior to filing the lawsuit, Tither-Kaplan shared her allegations of sexual misconduct against Franco in the Los Angeles Times, along with other women after Franco won a Golden Globe Award for “The Disaster Artist” in early 2018 when the wave of the #MeToo movement took off “won swept over Hollywood.
In a subsequent interview on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Franco called the sexual misconduct stories about him inaccurate, but said, “If I’ve done something wrong, I’ll fix it. I have to.”
42-year-old Franco, best known for starring in comedies with Seth Rogen, has generally held back as the allegations arose during a highly productive period that culminated in the acclaimed “Disaster Artist”.
Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.