James Franco to Pay $2.2 Million to Settle Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit

Lead plaintiffs will split $894,000 minus legal fees stemming from 2019 class action suit

James Franco
Getty Images

James Franco and associated parties will pay $2.235 million in order to settle a sexual misconduct lawsuit from 2019, in which two former students of Franco’s acting school accused him of intimidating them into gratuitous and exploitative sexual situations.

Though news of the settlement broke in February, the details of the settlement were unveiled as part of court filings made public on Wednesday. The deal will now be brought to a Los Angeles judge for approval on whether it is “fair, reasonable and adequate.”

Actresses and ex-students Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal led a class action lawsuit against Franco’s Playhouse West Studio 4, saying the class was a front in which Franco and his business partners, Vince Jolivette and Jay Davis, could take advantage of young female performers. They said the “Pineapple Express” star asserted his influence as an instructor by offering them parts in movies that never materialized or were never released, even with the expectation that Franco would star in some of the projects.

The documents show that through the settlement, Tither-Kaplan and Gaal will receive a combined third of the settlement, or $894,000, minus legal fees. The remaining two-thirds of the lawsuit, $1.341 million, will be split among the remaining students, which is defined as anyone who paid tuition for one or more Master Class at the school. Unclaimed money will be given to the National Women’s Law Center.

Franco has also agreed as part of the settlement to “non-economic” terms for both Tither-Kaplan and Gaal, but specifics of that deal were not disclosed. Tither-Kaplan and Gaal will agree as a result of the settlement to release their claims of fraud against Franco.

Both parties in a joint statement told TheWrap: “While Defendants continue to deny the allegations in the Complaint, they acknowledge that Plaintiffs have raised important issues; and all parties strongly believe that now is a critical time to focus on addressing the mistreatment of women in Hollywood,” the statement read. “All agree on the need to make sure that no one in the entertainment industry — regardless of race, religion, disability, ethnicity, background, gender or sexual orientation — faces discrimination, harassment or prejudice of any kind.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.