It’s unclear why four of the 24 plaintiffs suing Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson did not settle their claims. Surely, Watson would prefer to resolve all of the cases. (Last year, he declined a chance to settle 18 of the cases because he couldn’t settle all 22 that were pending at the time.)
So what happens with the remaining four cases? It’s possible that Watson needs to simply offer more than the amounts paid to the 20 who are settling. A mediation session with Watson, the four remaining plaintiffs, and their lawyers could potentially get it done. If that fails, Watson has another option available to him under Texas law.
It resides in Rule 167 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. Watson can make an offer of settlement to each of the remaining four plaintiffs. In a nutshell, his lawyers would calculate an all-in number that covers the actual settlement of the claim, attorney fees, costs, and interest. If not accepted, and if the plaintiff ultimately recovers less than 80 percent of the amount of the offer through the trial process, the plaintiff would then become responsible for all litigation costs incurred by Watson from the time the offer was rejected.
Although a provision added to Rule 167 in 2011 makes it impossible for the plaintiff to experience a net loss, the plaintiff could still lose the full amount of the verdict, if it lands (plus fees, costs, and interest) at less than 80 percent of the amount of the offer.
Basically, an offer of judgment would give each plaintiff something to think about. It would put a recovery at risk of being significantly limited and potentially wiped out. It would give a plaintiff who otherwise has nothing to lose something to lose.
In this case, an offer of judgment could be the thing that finally delivers settlements of the remaining four cases.