After a flurry of comments and posturing from both sides in the Deshaun Watson cases, things got quiet as the possibility of settlement was privately discussed. The lawyers briefly returned to the public eye to chide each other regarding settlement talks that broke down over the question of whether any deal would be subject to confidentiality.
Then, it got quiet again, inviting speculation about the possibility of a settlement. Now, one of the lawyers is speaking again.
“In response to the many queries we’ve received about the Deshaun Watson case,” attorney Tony Buzbee said on Instagram, “I typically don’t respond to individual press calls, because it’s easier for me to make one statement here. As I’ve said: There will not be a settlement, at least anytime soon. I have my best people on the case. That should tell you a lot about our intentions. Lawsuits are all about the work in the trenches. My 17 lawyers, under my supervision, are doing the legal grunt work it takes to prepare the cases for trial and another win. I’ve been doing this for many years, and, as the Texas Bar knows, I have rarely lost. And, these are very important cases — these women matter!! — and our team is doing what it takes in discovery and prep to try these cases to a jury. The press folks say we’ve gone ‘quiet,’ but the truth is we made clear early on that we wouldn’t try these cases in the press and now are doing the important work required for our clients to try these cases to a jury. It’s a lot of work! I would also point out that on a daily basis our firm proudly handles cases for people who have lost loved ones, for people burned beyond recognition, for workers who have had their lives ruined, for people hurt, for people discriminated against, for people wronged, and for people defrauded. Our firm will keep doing that. Thanks for your interest! Stand by.”
The comment that “we made clear early on that we wouldn’t try these cases in the press” is, frankly, laughable. Buzbee’s entire plan in the early phase of the litigation was to prosecute Watson in the court of public opinion, aggressively and repeatedly. As Buzbee would argue to any jury in the land, a complete lack of credibility on that important point makes the rest of his comments suspect, too.
Here’s my guess: Buzbee was and is ready to settle, but he’s still not ready to waive confidentiality. Instead, he’s rattling the sword about his intent to see the litigation through to the end in an effort to get Watson and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, to change his position.
As previously explained, the two sides would not have been discussing whether the settlement will be treated as confidential if a general agreement had not been reached as to the amount of the settlement. With 22 clients, Buzbee surely has gotten inquiries from one or more of them regarding when their case finally is going to be settled. For any of the 22 who don’t care about whether the settlement is confidential, the idea that the entire resolution is being delayed based on the question of confidentiality becomes a pointless impediment to their individual objectives.
If all cases aren’t settled by the time training camp opens, and if Watson also hasn’t been criminally charged, the NFL needs to inform Watson and the Texans as to whether he’ll be placed on paid leave after training camp opens. As recently explained, it’s unfair to Watson, the Texans, and any team that may want to perform a trade for Watson’s contract to refuse to make a decision on whether he’ll be placed on paid leave and to decline to make that decision known to all parties involved.