A class-action lawsuit against Peter Nygard, involving 57 women who allege the former fashion executive of sexually assaulting them, has been stayed.
The judge presiding over the case in the Southern District of New York entered a stay of proceedings on Friday, court records show.
The judge’s order is sealed, but a screenshot of the court docket posted on Twitter by InnerCity Press shows the U.S. government was granted leave to intervene.
In February, the FBI raided Nygard’s New York offices as part of a criminal sex-trafficking investigation shortly after the class action was filed. No charges have been laid.
Police in Canada and the Bahamas are also investigating Nygard.
“I’m not surprised by this,” said Winnipeg lawyer Robert Tapper, who isn’t involved in this case, but says generally speaking, police don’t want a civil trial to interfere with an active criminal investigation.
“If you’re the police and the lawyers representing the police investigators, you don’t want the civil trial lawyer scheduling an examination for discovery or a deposition of a witness,” Tapper said. “You want to do your own investigation.”
He said in the U.S., lawyers can call witnesses to testify during a civil trial, regardless of a police probe.
“You don’t have to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt in a civil case,” but in a criminal trial, “the state does not have that luxury,” he said.
“So they don’t want anyone else trampling on their investigation.”
Nygard denies the sexual assault claims and none have been proven in court.
In February, 10 women filed a class-action lawsuit against Nygard and his companies, alleging he had raped and sexually assaulted the plaintiffs. Other women have since signed onto the lawsuit from the U.S., Canada and the Bahamas, bringing the total number involved in the class action to 57.
Their allegations date back as far as 1977, and some of the women allege they were assaulted when they were as young as 14 or 15.
In July, Nygard filed a motion to dismiss the claims of most of the 57 plaintiffs in the case, arguing that 50 of the women have no connection to New York, and the American court doesn’t have jurisdiction over him or his companies named in the civil lawsuit.
Calls to Nygard’s spokespeople were not immediately returned.
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