As the 22 civil lawsuits pending against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson move toward an inevitable trial (barring a settlement), the lawyer representing the plaintiffs is seeking information from Watson’s former team, the Houston Texans.
It’s standard practice in civil litigation for the lawyers to cast a wide net, in the hopes of developing any evidence that possibly would help prove the case. The limits of permissible discovery are broad, with parties permitted to seek any information that is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence at trial.
Via Adam Ferrise of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the request seeks various forms of documents from the Texans, including any communications regarding the accusations made against Watson, Watson’s contract with the Texans, records of payments made by the Texans on Watson’s behalf for physical therapy or massages in 2019-20, any payments made to the Houstonian hotel on behalf of Watson, any records of rooms at the Houstonian hotel made available to any Texans players, copies of nondisclosure agreements the team provided to Watson, communication about accusations against Watson from the team’s security employees, communications between Watson and the team’s head trainer or training staff regarding massages or the Houstonian, and any communications between the team and the Houston or the Home2Suits hotel.
“I’m not sure what it’s about, but I know they keep trying to draw the Texans into this, even though that has been disproven, under oath,” Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told Ferrise. “I don’t think this is significant. [The Texans] had nothing to do with the massages, so other than that I’m not sure what this will do.”
Even if Hardin is right, the plaintiffs need to explore those angles. At some point, frankly, the Texans could have liability to the 22 plaintiffs if the team knew or should have known that Watson was in the habit of arranging massages that became something more than massages.