Days after we watched video of a Jeep Wrangler tipping over during IIHS crash testing, a new question has been raised about the SUV’s performance in an emergency, and it’s coming from an unlikely location — prison, where Harvey Weinstein is doing time for sex crimes.
On Tuesday, the former Hollywood movie producer, 70, sued Fiat-Chrysler (FCA), now owned by Stellantis, over a 2019 crash in which he flipped a Jeep Wrangler while trying to avoid a deer. Weinstein seeks $5 million in damages, saying the Aug. 17, 2019, accident in Bedford, New York, left him “catastrophically injured and rendered paralyzed” with “significant and continuing conscious pain and suffering.”
His attorney says Weinstein suffered “severe spine and back injuries.”
You may recall that during Weinstein’s trial in 2020, he came and went from the courtroom while hunched over a walker — and faced accusations that he was faking his injuries as a ploy for sympathy from the jury. If so, it didn’t work: He was nonetheless convicted of rape and sexual assault of several women, and is serving a 23-year sentence. The verdict against him was upheld on appeal last week in New York, and he awaits trial on 11 other counts in Los Angeles.
According to the complaint filed in a New York state court in Manhattan, Weinstein was wearing his seatbelt when the brakes on the 2017 Wrangler failed as he approached the deer, and the Jeep rolled over.
Weinstein said FCA had provided him with an “unreasonably dangerous” vehicle, in exchange for product placement in one of his films.
Bedford is about 40 miles (64 km) north of Manhattan.
Stellantis, which now owns FCA, had no immediate comment.
Gary Kavulich, a lawyer for Weinstein, disputed press reports suggesting his client was uninjured, saying Weinstein told authorities he was hurt at the time of the accident.
“He is in constant pain, it’s debilitating,” Kavulich said in a statement, adding that negotiations with FCA to avert a lawsuit “went on for months and months.”
The case remains the highest-profile trial in the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct by prominent men. Allegations from several women against Weinstein first came to light in the New York Times in 2017.
Weinstein underwent back surgery in December 2019.
He is awaiting trial in Los Angeles on other alleged sex crimes from 2004 to 2013, and has pleaded not guilty. Weinstein has denied any non-consensual sexual encounters.
Includes material from Reuters.