The Oscar nominee has agreed to compensate students from his film school who claim they were subjected to inappropriate and sexually exploitative behavior on set.
James Franco has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that he pressured his former film pupils to record more explicit sex scenes. The deal, which was originally reported by the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, will be approved by a Los Angeles judge.
The case was filed in October 2020 by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, two former classmates in Franco’s acting class. While the #MeToo movement has exposed a slew of bad behavior in Hollywood and beyond, this was a rare case of alleged sexual exploitation turning into a class action lawsuit.
When settlements are reached, the terms are usually kept quiet, but this isn’t always the case when the vehicle is a class action. In such cases, a judge must consider the settlement’s fairness for individuals who benefit but do not appear in court.
Tither-Kaplan will receive $670,500 in this case, less $223,500 in legal fees. Gaal will receive $223,500, less $74,500 for legal fees. The other students would receive about two-thirds of the remaining $1.341 million pot, with the lawyers taking home around $827,000.
James Franco has also agreed to “non-economic” terms for the individual claimants, albeit this is now under seal due to a move to seal the documents. Tither-Kaplan and Gaal will have to release claims, while the other students will have to release fraud claims against the star actor. Those in the class would have a few months to choose whether or not to participate.
“While Defendants continue to reject the accusations in the Complaint, they realize that Plaintiffs have raised major problems; and all parties strongly think that now is a key time to focus on addressing the abuse of women in Hollywood,” the statement adds. Everyone agrees that no one in the entertainment industry should encounter discrimination, harassment, or prejudice of any type, regardless of color, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender, or sexual orientation.”
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