Deadline extended in Casey Affleck sex harassment case

Mon Aug 9, 2010 9:31am EDT
 
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By Matthew Belloni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Lawyers for Casey Affleck and one of the women suing him for sexual harassment during the shoot of his Joaquin Phoenix documentary have filed court papers extending a key deadline in the case by a month. Could that mean the parties are talking settlement?

Affleck attorney Marty Singer said Friday that no settlement negotiations are under way. And Brian Procel, the lawyer who represents producer Amanda White and cinematographer Magdalena Gorka, declined to comment.

But White, the first to sue Affleck for $2 million on July 23, was scheduled to submit her opposition brief on Monday to Affleck's motion to move the case from Los Angeles Superior Court to private arbitration. That deadline has now been pushed back a month to September 9. No reason was given in the stipulation.

Extensions in heated litigation are often negotiated to provide time to work out differences and settle a case. But just as often, attorneys seek extra time merely because they need it to prepare a brief.

Perhaps coincidentally, the new deadline is the day before the scheduled U.S. release of "I'm Still Here: The Lost Year of Joaquin Phoenix" (it will premiere at the Venice Film Festival in advance). If some kind of settlement is reached before then, the cases could be dismissed. If not, they could drag on in public, even as the Magnolia Pictures movie hits theaters.

As you'll recall, White and Gorka claim they left the project after enduring repeated sexual harassment by Affleck, who is married to Phoenix's sister. White claims Affleck pressured her to stay in a hotel room with him, and Gorka says Affleck crawled into bed with her as she slept.

Singer has denied the allegations, calling them part of a scheme to extort money from Affleck. The filmmaker also has threatened to countersue.

 
<p>U.S. actor Casey Affleck arrives for the opening ceremony of the 5th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival December 11, 2008. REUTERs/Jumana El Heloueh</p>