It seems like a noble pursuit: Eric T. Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, filed a lawsuit over the weekend against the Weinstein Company over the "toxic" environment it created that allowed its co-founder Harvey Weinstein to harass and abuse dozens of women.
But is it a wise pursuit?
Mr. Schneiderman said all the right things about compensating the victims, protecting current employees and assuring "that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched."
And the lawsuit was timed perfectly for maximum impact: just hours before the company was to be sold on Sunday to a group of investors led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who had said she planned to set aside at least $50 million for a victims' fund and start a new female-led movie studio.
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If Mr. Schneiderman's goal was to upend the deal and make headlines, he succeeded. The sale of the company was quickly put on hold.
But if Mr. Schneiderman's goal was to help Mr. Weinstein's victims, he may have actually hurt their chances: If no sale goes through, the Weinstein Company may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection.
In bankruptcy, the victims wouldn't jump to the front of the line. Quite the opposite: The victims would be treated like any unsecured creditor, which means there would most likely be no funds for them — no matter how much abuse and misconduct they could prove in court.
It is now likely going to be harder, not easier, for victims to receive compensation for enduring years of harassment and abuse.
"Question Number One: Is there enough money?" said Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who administered funds for the victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the BP oil spill and the faulty ignition switch at General Motors. That, he told me, is always the single most important issue when trying to redress victims.
Mr. Feinberg said that protecting the value of a company in crisis is paramount to supporting the cost of paying victims. "These funds only get set up when there is sufficient money to forgo all the litigation," he said.
In each of the major victims' funds Mr. Feinberg administered, the funds were backed by either large companies or, in the case of the 9/11 victims, American taxpayers.
Mr. Feinberg's position was echoed by Gloria Allred, the California lawyer who is representing a group of Mr. Weinstein's victims. Ms. Allred was in favor of the sale to Ms. Contreras-Sweet and, in fact, advised her to voluntarily create a victims' fund.
She said she was furious with Mr. Schneiderman.