A Washington Post interview of attorney Tony Buzbee includes plenty of flavor and context regarding the maneuverings that happened between the lawyers handling the 22 civil cases filed against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The interview also has one significant bit of news.
Per Will Hobson of the Post, five of Buzbee’s clients have spoken to the Houston Police Department regarding Watson.
Watson has denied any an all wrongdoing.
Buzbee shared with Hobson details regarding efforts to settle the case. Buzbee reiterated his frustration with the failure of Watson’s management team to take the situation seriously before the first lawsuit was filed. After Buzbee made a $100,000 settlement demand on behalf of the first plaintiff to file suit, Scott Gaffield of Athletes First did not respond with a firm offer but asked Buzbee to replace his original request with a new one.
“He wanted us to bid against ourselves,” Buzbee told Hobson. “And I was done.”
Here’s something I can say with certainty based on 18 years of practicing law: That’s exactly how the legal sausage gets made. One side makes a demand, and the other side either responds to it (setting the stage for the exchange of further numbers) or doesn’t respond. Asking the party that made the opening demand to make a new demand constitutes a breach of negotiating etiquette, in every jurisdiction in the country if not the world.
Buzbee said that another attempt to settle the cases happened after Watson hired Rusty Hardin. At the time, three had been filed and four more were ready to go.
“Your guy’s got some kind of weird problem . . . alleged problem,” Buzbee said he told Hardin. “This is already spiraling in a bad direction. . . . Why don’t we try to resolve this now?”
Hardin asked for a day to explore the possibility. The next night, Hardin told Buzbee there would be no settlement.
Now with 22 plaintiffs, a settlement becomes complicated, nuanced, and unwieldy. What if some settle and some don’t? Watson needs to resolve all of the cases in order to clear the cloud that’s hovering over his career.
Currently, Buzbee doesn’t seem to be inclined to try. Part of his method could be to let Hardin and anyone who’s paying attention know that, if you don’t handle things the right way initially, you’ll soon wish you did. Buzbee also may be emboldened by some of the tactics that Hardin has employed, such as admitting publicly that Watson had sexual encounters with some massage therapists.
“So you’ve just told the world who’s watching that your client paid for sex? . . . My grandma always said: ‘You’re digging yourself a hole already. Stop digging,’” Buzbee said.
Hardin spoke briefly to Hobson regarding the things Buzbee said.
“There are many inaccuracies in what Tony has said, but I would rather address them in court filings than in an article,” Hardin told Hobson.
Buzbee told Hobson one more thing worth nothing. The lawyer said that he’d wager $100,000 that Watson’s managers wished they’d settled the case in February.
Frankly, I wouldn’t take the other side of that bet.