The 6 women suing Harvey Weinstein are using a gangster law originally designed to take down the Mafia — and experts warn it won't be easy

  • Harvey Weinstein and his companies face a potential class-action racketeering lawsuit after allegedly conspiring to cover up sexual assault and silence victims.
  • Legal experts say using the federal racketeering statute is a more complex route than a personal injury suit — but if they win, they could receive triple the amount of potential damages.

Six women on Wednesday filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and the companies associated with him, alleging that their coordinated efforts to cover up a pattern of egregious sexual misconduct amounted to racketeering.

The women accused Weinstein, The Weinstein Company, members of its board, and Miramax of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act, a law passed in 1970 that was designed to prosecute massive criminal enterprises like the Mafia.

But legal experts say a class-action racketeering suit against Weinstein and his co-defendants will likely be a complex, lengthy process.

70 PHOTOS
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct
See Gallery
High-profile men accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing dozens of women, including a number of well-known celebrities, over the past several decades.

(REUTERS/Gus Ruelas)

Matt Lauer was fired from 'Today' after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct that allegedly included giving a co-worker a sex toy and dropping his pants in front of a female employee in his office.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Actor Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual assault by two women from the Amazon series, "Transparent."  

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Sen. Al Franken is accused of kissing a groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Eleven women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'

(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Rep. Ruben Kihuen, (D) Nevada, was accused of making repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex to a woman that once worked on his campaign.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hundreds of women accused longtime Hollywood writer and director James Toback of sexual harassment.

(TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)

Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, according to the New York Times.

(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Director Bret Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News Channel, was accused of sexually harassing former anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women from the network.

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Several women accused TV host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, including groping and lewd phone calls.

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Bill Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from about 60 women, including several women who claim he drugged them.

(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)

Mark Schwahn, the former "One Tree Hill" showrunner, was accused of sexual harassment by a large number of the show's cast and crew.

(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)

Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.

(REUTERS/Marvin Gentry)

Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.

(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Actor Casey Affleck settled lawsuits out of court wth two women who accused him of sexual harassment.  

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Film Independent)

Bill O'Reilly has reportedly made numerous settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment.

(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting a teenage girl.

(TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Veteran journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Singer R. Kelly is accused of holding women against their will in houses in Illinois and Georgia in a reported 'sex cult.'

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Former Fox Host Eric Bolling was accused of sending unsolicited lewd text messages to female colleagues.

(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Director Roman Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Several other women have also come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.

(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

Chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after female employees reported facing sexual harassment there. 

(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

Photographer Terry Richardson was labeled the 'Harvey Weinstein of Fashion' by the Sunday Times amid widespread accusations of sexual harassment by models.

(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)

Singer Kesha accused Lukasz Gottwald aka Dr. Luke of drugging and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions.

(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Former champion boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1992. 

(REUTERS/Michael Clevenger/POOL)

Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of his former patients and athletes.

(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Music mogul L.A. Reid left his position as Epic Records CEO/Chairman in 2017 amid harassment claims by a female assistant.

(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned following reports that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress' allegation of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein.

(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)

Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.

(REUTERS/Adrees Latif)

Chris Savino (right), creator of  'The Loud House' was suspended by Nickelodeon after being accused of making unwanted advances toward multiple women.

(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)

Actor Steven Seagal was accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition's chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero.

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images,)

Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio, was accused of inappropriate conduct with two women in 1990s.

(REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad)

Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a production assistant when he was 48 and she was a high school senior.

(REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

Jeremy Piven was accused by actress Ariane Bellamar of groping her on two separate occasions. Piven 'unequivocally' denied the allegations.

(REUTERS/Mike Blake)

Ben Affleck apologized for acting 'inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton during an appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in 2003.

(REUTER/Dylan Martinez

Andy Dick was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, including groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions.

(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)

Four women, including several that were also fellow Scientologists, have accused actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault, according to HuffPost.

 (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Actor Ed Westwick was accused by actress Kristina Cohen of raping her in his home.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

David Guillod, producer of 'Atomic Blonde,' is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several woman.

(Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)

Andrew Kreisberg, the showrunner for "Supergirl," was suspended in November 2017 amid numerous sexual harassment allegations by members of his staff.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Actor Tom Sizemore was reportedly told to leave a film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals.

(REUTERS/Phil McCarten)

Steve Jurvetson left his own venture capital firm after allegations of sexual harassment

(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

A former model accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him 36 years ago.

(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)

Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulted her at an award ceremony in 2013.

(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)

A former writer for 'Mad Men' said the show's creator Matthew Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked.

(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Ron Jeremy has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women and the allegations span more than 30 years.

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Multiple women accused producer Adam Fields of touching them inappropriately and sexually propositioning them.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.

(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was accused of crossing the line with employees, including unwanted hugs.

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Singer Nick Carter was accused of rape by a former member of the all-girl teen band Dream, Melissa Schuman.

(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

A singer accused billionaire Richard Branson of sexual assault during an event as his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Branson says he has no recollection of the matter.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

Talent agent Adam Venit is accused of grabbing actor Terry Crews' genitals.

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez), Marilyn Manson former longtime bassist, was accused of rape by singer Jessicka Addams.

(Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)

Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's editorial director was fired after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.

(Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for Haute Magazine)

Producer Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, has also been accused of sexual harassment. 

(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

Jesse Lacey of  the band, Brand New, was accused of sexual misconduct, including soliciting nude photos from a teen girl in the past.

(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)

Senior Correspondent for E! News Ken Baker California was accused of sexual harassment by two women.

(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

American film director Oliver Stone was accused of groping model and actress Carrie Stevens in the 1990s.

(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

Reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended by the New York Times after several women accused him of acting inappropriately when they were young journalists.

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Veteran radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following claim of improper behavior.

(Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)

CNN producer Teddy Davis was fired after multiple accusations of harassment.

(Photo via Twitter)

Producer Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies following sexual assault and harassment accusations from two women.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Longtime conductor James Levine was suspended by New York's Metropolitan Opera after sexual abuse claims.

(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)

Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several former employees, including forcing them to watch porn and openly discussing his sexual partners.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

"X-Men" director Bryan Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy on a yacht in a lawsuit filed in December.

(REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

Harold Ford, Jr.

(Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Chef Mario Batali has been accused by multiple women of "inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades."

(Photo by Donna Ward/Getty Images)

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"In my opinion, the RICO claim's primary value is to bring publicity to the lawsuit," Jeffrey Grell, a University of Minnesota law professor who has written a book on RICO, told Business Insider. He added that the plaintiffs would have better standing to sue over personal injury — tort — claims.

"This is assault, it's battery, it's intentional infliction of emotional distress," he said. "I tell people when they present [racketeering] claims like this to me, 'Hey, if you need to get from point A to point B, why buy a jet when you can get to point B by riding a bike?' And the tort claims are like riding the bicycle."

Though racketeering claims can be more complicated than torts, successful suits come with significantly higher damages, Morgan Cloud, an Emory University law professor who has studied RICO, told Business Insider in an email.

"Litigants sue for civil damages under the RICO statute in part because, if they win, they are entitled to recover treble damages — three times their actual damages — and their costs of litigation, including attorneys' fees," he said.

The crux of the women's arguments is that Weinstein and multiple "complicit" individuals and companies conspired to lure women, under the guise of career advancement opportunities, into situations where Weinstein could sexually harass or assault them. Then, they say, Weinstein and his associates would allegedly silence accusations of wrongdoing by blacklisting or threatening to blacklist the women.

Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct ranges from instances of flashing, groping, and harassing to fondling, battering, false imprisonment, sexual assault, and rape.

35 PHOTOS
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
See Gallery
Women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault
Paz de la Huerta, who stars on HBO's 'Boardwalk Empire,' claims Harvey Weinstein raped her on two separate occasions in 2010: "I was in no state. I was so terrified of him," she told Vanity Fair. "I did say no, and when he was on top of me, I said, 'I don't want to do this' ... It was disgusting. He's like a pig."
British actress Lysette Anthony has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her in her home in the late 1980s.
Amber Anderson said Harvey Weinstein 'behaved inappropriately' and bragged about other actresses he had 'helped' in exchange for sexual favors.
Natassia Malthe has accused Weinstein of raping her in a hotel room. On a separate occasion, after she was assured that Weinstein would not come onto her, she was allegedly escorted to Weinstein's hotel room by an assistant. In the room was another woman, who performed oral sex on Weinstein whil he asked Malthe to join.
Lupita Nyong'o wrote a detailed essay for the New York Times recounting multiple incidents with Weinstein, including an evening during which he asked her to give him a nude massage while his family was in the same home.
Marisa Coughlan said that she planned to meet Weinstein for a meeting at his hotel. Instead, he requested a massage.

Heather Graham said Weinstein told her he had an agreement with his wife that allowed him to sleep with whomever he wants. He then asked him to meet her to discuss a film project at his hotel, falsely telling her that her friend would also be present. She declined.

French actress Judith Godreche has accused Weinstein of inappropriately pressing up against her, trying to remove her sweater and asking for a massage.

Lauren Holly said that during a seemingly normal meeting with Weinstein to discuss a project, he began disrobing, got into the shower, and went to the bathroom while continuing to converse with her. He then allegedly asked her for a massage. She fled. 
Angie Everhart said that she was sleeping in her own cabin on a yacht when Harvey Weinstein entered, blocked the door and began masturbating. He told her not to tell anyone, but she "told everyone," including many actors and producers. In response, most told her that it was just Harvey being Harvey. In an interview with TMZ, she emphasized that anyone in the industry who knew Harvey at all knew that he regularly did things like what he allegedly did to her.
Kate Beckinsale has accused Harvey Weinstein of coming onto her in his hotel room when she was 17 years old.
Tara Subkoff said that in the 1990s, on the same day that she was offered a major movie role, she met Harvey Weinstein at a party. He allegedly made her sit on his lap while he had an erection. He then told her that if he did not do certain sexual things, she would not get the role that she'd already been offered. She declined. Afterward, she said, her "reputation was ruined by false gossip" and she found it near impossible to book roles.
Minka Kelly said that Harvey Weinstein offered her a lavish lifestyle in exchange for being his extramarital girlfriend. She declined.
Gwyneth Paltrow told the New York Times that Harvey Weinstein asked her for a massage in his hotel suite. After she told then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, Pitt confronted him, leading Weinstein to contact Paltrow and "scream" at her, she said.
Asia Argento has accused Weinstein of raping her in his hotel room when she was 21. She first reluctantly agreed to give him a massage, and then he forcibly performed oral sex on her. During subsequent encounters, she had consensual sexual relations with him due to fear that he would otherwise ruin her career.
Rose McGowan has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. In October 2016, she tweeted reference to a studio head raping her. In October 2017, in a tweet to Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, McGowan referred to Weinstein by name while repeating her rape accusation. The alleged incident took place in the 1990s and resulted in a financial settlement.
Cara Delevingne has accused Harvey Weinstein of attempting to coerce her into kissing another woman in his hotel room. She had just begun her acting career and believed they were meeting just to finalize talks for a film role.
Angelina Jolie said she had a "bad experience with Harvey Weinstein in my youth" and refused to work with him subsequently.
Jessica Barth has accused Harvey Weinstein of demanding that she get naked and give him a massage.
Emma de Caunes has accused Harvey Weinstein of unexpectedly getting naked and demanding that she lie down as other women had supposedly done before her.
Lauren Sivan has accused Harvey Weinstein of cornering her in a public space and masturbating to completion in front of her.
Mira Sorvino, seen here at a Weinstein Co. event in January 2017, said that after refusing Harvey Weinstein's advances, he dissuaded others in the industry from hiring her.
Ambra Battilana has accused Harvey Weinstein of groping her breasts and reaching under her skirt. She went to the NYPD and then conducted a sting operation, the audio of which was published by the New Yorker. In the audio, Weinstein can be heard attempting to coerce her to enter his hotel room.
Louisette Geiss has accused Harvey Weinstein of luring her to his hotel room after assuring her he wouldn't hit on her. He then disrobed and repeatedly asked her to watch him masturbate, telling her he would produce her screenplay if she did.
Emily Nestor (far right), a former Weinstein Co. employee, has accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.
Rosanna Arquette has accused Harvey Weinstein of dissuading others from hiring her after she rejected his sexual advances.
Rose McGowan has publicly accused Weinstein of sexual harassment. She has also accused others in the industry of knowing of Weinstein's misconduct and either actively or passively hiding it.
Ashley Judd has publicly accused Harvey Weinstein of asking her for a massage and then asking her to watch him shower.
Florence Darel has accused Harvey Weinstein of coming onto her in a hotel suite in 1996 while his wife was in the room next door.
Zoe Brock (left, in 2004) has accused Weinstein of getting naked and chasing her around a hotel room after she refused to give him a massage.
Katherine Kendall (right, in 2006) has accused Harvey Weinstein of disrobing and asking for a massage in his apartment after a movie screening, telling her that "everybody does it." He then asked her to at least show him her breasts, which she refused.
Romola Garai has accused Harvey Weinstein of making her feel "violated" when he watched her audition wearing only a bathrobe in his hotel room.
Lea Seydoux has accused Harvey Weinstein of forcibly trying to kiss her on the lips in 2012.
Claire Forlani said she "escaped" Harvey Weinstein on five occasions. He allegedly told her about all the actresses he had slept with and how he had in turn established their careers. He also attempted to get her to give him a massage.
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'I don't know how they prove that'

Despite the gravity of the women's allegations, there are several problems their attorneys will run into with a racketeering claim, Grell said.

In a civil RICO claim, for instance, a plaintiff must prove that racketeering damaged their business or property.

In this case, the suit alleges that Weinstein and his associates used obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and mail and wire fraud to prevent the women from getting work. That, Grell said, is notoriously difficult to prove.

"RICO requires that the plaintiff prove that but for the fraud they would have received the part ... and I don't know how they prove that in a case like this," Grell said.

"They essentially have to prove that but for Weinstein's lie, or half-truth, they would have gotten this part. And when you look into the reasons why anyone is hired for any job, there's a multitude of reasons."

40 PHOTOS
Harvey Weinstein and celebrities through the years
See Gallery
Harvey Weinstein and celebrities through the years
Lindsay Lohan and Harvey Weinstein at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/WireImage)
Film producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrive for the 50th anniversary gala of the NFT at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank in London. (Photo by Yui Mok - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
(L-R) Harvey Weinstein and Sarah Jessica Parker attend The Weinstein Co. Celebrates 'I Don't Know How She Does It' Presented By vitaminwater at the Martinez Hotel on May 13, 2011 in Cannes, France.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 12: Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein (C) and tv personality Heidi Klum (back, L) and actress Uma Thurman (front, L) attend The Weinstein Company & Netflix's 2014 Golden Globes After Party presented by Bombardier, FIJI Water, Lexus, Laura Mercier, Marie Claire and Yucaipa Films at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Producer Harvey Weinstein (L) speaks with Jennifer Lawrence during a commercial break at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles, California January 18, 2014 REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)(SAGAWARDS-SHOW)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Harvey Weinstein and Jennifer Lawrence during the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at The Barker Hanger on January 10, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 16: Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein attend the19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Barker Hangar on January 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 10: Actor George Clooney and producer Harvey Weinstein attend the Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2013 with Skinnygirl Cocktails at Barkar Hangar on January 10, 2013 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage)
Actress Julia Roberts (R) and producer Harvey Weinstein (L) attend the premiere of 'August: Osage County,' December 16, 2013 at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
CAP D'ANTIBES, FRANCE - MAY 25: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Nicole Kidman attend the amfAR Gala Cannes 2017 at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc on May 25, 2017 in Cap d'Antibes, France. (Photo by Dave Benett/amfAR2017/Dave Benett/WireImage for amfAR )
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 25: Harvey Weinstein and Blake Lively attend the 2017 TIME 100 Gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 01: (L-R)Harvey Weinstein and Taylor Swift attend 'Finding Neverland' Workshop Presentation At New 42 Studios on April 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Megyn Kelly attend The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 08: Harvey Weinstein, and Jay Z speak onstage during TIME AND PUNISHMENT: A Town Hall Discussion with JAY Z and Harvey Weinstein on Spike TV at MTV Studios on March 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Spike)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08: Jennifer Lawrence (L) and Harvey Weinstein attend the 'Silver Linings Playbook' Grey Goose Dinner hosted by Harvey Weinstein and Stephen Fry at Little House on February 8, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein (L) and actress/recording artist Jennifer Lopez attend The Weinstein Company's Academy Awards Nominees Dinner in partnership with Chopard, DeLeon Tequila, FIJI Water and MAC Cosmetics on February 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TWC)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Actor Dev Patel, producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Priyanka Bose attend The Weinstein Company's Pre-Oscar Dinner in partnership with Bvlgari and Grey Goose at Montage Beverly Hills on February 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and fashion designer Zac Posen attend The Weinstein Company's Pre-Oscar Dinner in partnership with Bvlgari and Grey Goose at Montage Beverly Hills on February 25, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Recording artist Taylor Swift, musician Este Haim, actress Jaime King, producer Harvey Weinstein and recording artist Lorde attend The Weinstein Company's 2015 Golden Globe Awards After Party with Moet & Chandon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: Harvey Weinstein and Anna Wintour attend the Marchesa Fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Skylight Clarkson Sq on February 15, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 25: Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein (L) and executive producer and rapper Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter attend the 'TIME: The Kalief Browder Story' Sundance World Premiere at The Marc Theatre on January 25, 2017 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Spike TV)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 08: Harvey Weinstein (L) and Suki Waterhouse attend The London Evening Standard British Film Awards at Claridge's Hotel on December 8, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: (L-R) Music Producer Terry Lewis, recording artist Usher and C0-Chair of Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein attend the ceremony honoring Usher with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 7, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Producer Harvey Weinstein and actress Amanda Seyfried attend the Audi celebrates 'The King's Speech' awards season party held at Chateau Marmont on February 7, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Supermodel Heidi Klum and Producer Harvey Weinstein pose at the Project Runway fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 8, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: (L-R) Director David O. Russell, actress Jennifer Lawrence and co-chairman of The Weinstein Group Harvey Weinstein attend 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: Leonardo DiCaprio attends a Hillary Victory Fund fundraiser at the residence of Harvey Weinstein on June 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Film producer Harvey Weinstein and chef Sandra Lee attend the 2016 amfAR New York Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on February 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 13: Harvey Weinstein and Tamron Hall attend the Marchesa fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on September 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images For NYFW: The Shows)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 07: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, actors Channing Tatum, and Jenna Dewan attend the world premiere of 'The Hateful Eight' presented by The Weinstein Company at Le Jardin on December 7, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Weinstein Co)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 16: Bette Midler (C)and daughter Sophie von Haselberg and Harvey Weinstein attend the Marchesa fashion show during Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week at St. Regis Hotel on September 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Dame Judi Dench and Harvey Weinstein attend A Special Screening of 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' at MGM screening room on November 28, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21: (L-R) Actress/recording artist Jennifer Hudson, Co-Chairman of The Weinstein Company Harvey Weinstein, and actress Kerry Washington attend The Weinstein Company's Academy Awards Nominees Dinner in partnership with Chopard, DeLeon Tequila, FIJI Water and MAC Cosmetics on February 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for TWC)
BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 09: Harvey Weinstein and Helen Mirren attend the 'Woman in Gold' press conference during the 65th Berlinale International Film Festival at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 9, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 09: Filmmaker Harvey Weinstein with musician Taylor Swift arrives at the 'One Chance' Premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Winter Garden Theatre on September 9, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Actress Jennifer Lawrence (L) and producer Harvey Weinstein attend the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at JW Marriott Los Angeles at L.A. LIVE on April 20, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 04: Actress Julia Roberts and producer Harvey Weinstein arrive at the 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 4, 2014 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Jeff Vespa/Getty Images for PSIFF)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: (L-R) Producer Harvey Weinstein, model Chrissy Teigen, and musician John Legend attend Samsung Studio and Harvey Weinstein Host Annual Weinstein Sundance Bowl Football Party During The Sundance Film Festival 2016 on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Samsung)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 10: Singer Gwen Stefani and Producer Harvey Weinstein attend the premiere of TWC-Dimension's 'Paddington' held at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on January 10, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
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Similar civil racketeering cases have died for those reasons, he added, including cases against clergy members accused of covering up sexual abuse scandals.

Attorney Steve Berman, managing partner of the Hagens Berman firm representing the women, told Business Insider in a statement that the suit is "a classic case for RICO."

"Yesterday's New York Times article called it 'Weinstein's Complicity Machine,'" Berman said. "Exactly what we have here is an enterprise of many assisting Weinstein's unlawful conduct, and RICO prohibits unlawful enterprises. We see it as a classic RICO case."

One aspect in the plaintiff's favor is that the federal racketeering statue is a broad one that many conventional organizations have been successfully sued under. Cloud sees several aspects of the women's suit that at first glance appear to fall neatly under RICO's requirements.

For instance, the women must demonstrate a "pattern" of racketeering activity, meaning multiple acts over a significant period of time. Their suit – and the dozens of other women who have made public allegations against Weinstein in recent months — appears to have done that, Cloud said.

"Assuming that press reports have been accurate, actions by Weinstein and his associates could constitute a pattern — if these actions are 'racketeering acts,'" he told Business Insider in an email.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs must demonstrate the existence of an "enterprise," which must in some way affect interstate or foreign commerce.

"The Weinstein Company undoubtedly passes that test," Cloud said.

NOW WATCH: Legislation is being introduced to close a legal loophole that prevents workplace sexual-harassment stories from going public

See Also:

SEE ALSO: All the women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault

DON'T MISS: 6 women file proposed class-action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, alleging sexual assault cover-ups were racketeering

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