Breaking down Rusty Hardin’s latest statement on behalf of Deshaun Watson

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Monday entailed a number of developments in the Deshaun Watson litigation, with three new lawsuits officially filed and another accuser who has not yet sued but has told her story to SI.com.

Along the way, Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement in response to the claim that Watson has deleted Instagram messages and that he has contacted massage therapists regarding a possible settlement. After taking a closer look at the things said, and not said, by Hardin, his statement requires further analysis.

The various sentences from the statement are addressed below.

“Like a lot of people, Deshaun regularly deletes past Instagram messages. That said, he has not deleted any messages since March 15th, the day before the first lawsuit was filed.”

These first two sentences expressly state that Watson has deleted no Instagram messages since the day before the first lawsuit was filed against Watson. They imply that Watson possibly deleted past Instagram messages after becoming aware of settlement demands/litigation threats, which happened (according to attorney Tony Buzbee) roughly a month before the first case was filed. It’s possible that Watson deleted potentially incriminating (in his view) Instagram messages after becoming aware of the potential lawsuits but before the first case was filed.

“We categorically deny that he has reached out directly to his accusers in an attempt to settle these cases.”

The presence of the word “directly” implies that indirect efforts to initiate settlement discussions may have occurred.

“Opposing counsel’s continued statements that these cases aren’t about money do not square with the facts in at least two of these cases.”

Buzbee’s claim that the cases aren’t about money continues to be disingenuous. The civil justice system issues relief in three ways: (1) through orders that tell people what to do or not do (injunctions); (2) through decisions that resolve clear, existing disputes between parties (declaratory judgments); or (3) through verdicts that require one party to pay the other party money.

The cases filed by Buzbee on behalf of 19 plaintiffs and counting seek money. His constant reference to the minimum jurisdictional amount of $500 represents the floor, not the ceiling. The ceiling ultimately is whatever a jury will award and a judge will approve.

“It is incredibly irresponsible to continue to make these types of false allegations in this avalanche of anonymous lawsuits, particularly while we are still trying to find out who the accusers are. We will address these issues, and others raised in these cases, in our formal response to the court in the coming weeks.”

Hardin’s statement sweeps broadly here, allowing a reasonable observer to conclude that he’s describing as false the entirety of the allegations against Watson in all 19 cases. It’s possible Hardin is referring only to Buzbee’s claim that the cases aren’t about money or that Watson is deleting Instagram messages or that he’s contacting accusers in an effort to settle the cases. Regardless, it’s easy to read Hardin’s statement as a reiteration of a belief that all accusers against Watson are not telling the truth. With 19 accusers and counting, that becomes very hard to believe.

Also, Hardin’s reference to a “formal response to the court” suggests there will be no attempt to quickly resolve the cases — possibly because Buzbee would attached a premium to any early settlement, given that it would allow Watson to move forward with his NFL career and to avoid any possibility of criminal prosecution. Finally, it’s possible that Hardin’s “formal response to the court” will commence with an attack on the fact that all 19 plaintiffs have sued under the Jane Doe pseudonym, with Hardin asking the court to compel the individuals to be identified or, alternatively, to dismiss the cases.

Wherever it goes from here, both sides seem to be prepared for what could be a protracted fight. In some situations, that’s a necessary prerequisite to setting the stage for a mutually satisfactory resolution. That continues to be the best outcome — a full and formal mediation session in which all parties are heard, all parties have what feels like their day in court, and all parties are satisfied with the final outcome.

7 responses to “Breaking down Rusty Hardin’s latest statement on behalf of Deshaun Watson

  1. How is a mediation session the “best outcome?” Best outcome for Watson maybe, but not the general public. I don’t want him to be able to just buy his way out of it if he is guilty of what he is accused. And if he is innocent then I want his name cleared in court. Resolving this behind closed doors with money is going to leave everyone with unanswered question of “Is Deshaun Watson a predator?”

  2. “avalanche of anonymous lawsuits, particularly while we are still trying to find out who the accusers are.”
    ——————-

    Seriously Rusty, talk to your client.

    Each “Jane Doe” lawsuit has a specific time, date and location of the alleged sexual assault. It’s only anonymous to the general public in the court filing, but Watson would have details of massage therapists he hired.

    Maybe he should also tell his client to stop deleting the Instagram messages, as that’ll probably have the names to identify them too.

  3. “That continues to be the best outcome — a full and formal mediation session in which all parties are heard, all parties have what feels like their day in court, and all parties are satisfied with the final outcome.”

    I certainly wouldn’t presume to argue the finer points of law with Mr. Florio. However, with regard to the last sentence, I’m having a difficult time envisioning any scenario in which this mess concludes with “all parties satisfied with the final outcome.”
    One side or the other is going to lose. The only thing to be determined is to what degree, or how that loss might look.
    Deshaun Watson is either determined guilty and suffers greatly, or no charges are proven but his reputation still takes a giant hit. The plaintiffs either get satisfaction and/or their pound of flesh, or they walk away with neither.
    Truth be told, the only parties that win even — if they lose — are the attorneys who stand to bank some rather hefty legal fees.

  4. It’s got to be difficult for all the women involved, his accusers, his girlfriend, his mother, etc. A nightmare for all of them.

  5. and by the time this whole deal is done it’ll be right in the thick of summer and it’ll be impossible for Watson to be traded at that point, and the Texans get what they wanted all along. DeShaun Watson as their QB and beaten down to the point that he has no leverage or timing to demand a trade.

    Hence proof that these lawsuits could’ve been unveiled at any time in the past year, but were strategically held to benefit the Texans org.

  6. Watson may have to pay some money, and may get a suspension.

    But the biggest losers are the Texans.
    They will get less in a trade.
    And Deshaun Watson can “play” but play poorly.
    Lets say he gets a suspension and plays 12 games.
    His guarantees are voided.
    Whats to prevent him from making some “errant passes” that lead to interceptions?

    The Texans will be forced to cut him after 2021.
    Or they can trade him, but get less.

    This is a lose -lose proposition for them.
    They would have been better off to trade him rather than smear him.

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