Texans’ settlement with 30 accusers has pros and cons for Deshaun Watson

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On the surface, the decision of the Houston Texans to settle with one woman who had sued the team over former quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s alleged misconduct and with 29 others who had not yet sued has no impact on Watson. The claims against him — four still pending and, based on the Houston settlement, up to six who could still sue him — are not affected. At a deeper level, there are pros and cons to Houston settling.

The good news is that, if/when the cases against the Texans go to trial, Watson won’t get dragged into that litigation as a witness. He would have been potentially questioned under oath in advance of each trial (in the form of a deposition), and he undoubtedly would have been called to testify at each and every trial. Even if he had settled all of the cases pending against him by then, he would have faced tough questioning from attorney Tony Buzbee and possibly from the team’s lawyer, based on the specific defense(s) developed and asserted before a jury. The team could have tried to show that Watson did nothing wrong and, in turn, the team did nothing wrong. The team alternatively could have tried to blame it all on Watson, that he’s the one who should have been pursued for compensation for any wrongdoing.

Along those same lines, the settlement avoids what would have been a very awkward dynamic. If the cases against the Texans would have been filed directly against the team and not added to the existing cases (that’s how the first one was presented), the Texans would have potentially added Watson to the cases as a third-party defendant when formally responding to each lawsuit, arguing that Watson is responsible for any alleged harm suffered, not the team. The headline easily could have been, “Texans sue Deshaun Watson.”  The settlements by the Texans avoid this procedural complication.

The bad news is that, for the four pending cases and the six potential additional ones, the settlements will help fund the ongoing litigation. Although the amount isn’t known and may never be, any amount paid to the women still suing or who will be suing Watson can be used to help pay the expenses in the four cases still pending against him. It also could embolden those who have refused settlement offers to hold even more firm in their positions, and to insist on having a public trial.

On that point, Watson and his lawyers may be entitled to learn within the confines of the pending cases the amounts paid by the Texans. The Texans and Buzbee surely would fight any such effort. Watson, through his lawyers, may argue that the information could be relevant to the remaining litigation, and thus is fair game for the discovery process. If the settlements are low, the potential argument would be that it shows the cases are weak. If the settlements are high, Watson could try to get credit dollar-for-dollar credit against any verdict entered against him. Again, the team and Buzbee would surely fight any such attempt to introduce the settlement amounts in open court.

It’s still a two-edged sword for Watson. The more the Texans pay, the more it appears that there was a reason to pay. That the Texans had known about Watson’s alleged wrongdoing and failed to stop it. That Watson had indeed engaged in wrongdoing.

Regardless, the bottom line is that the situation, which was on the verge of becoming hopelessly complicated with up to 30 fresh lawsuits against the Texans, has become streamlined. From the NFL’s perspective, that’s good news. It guarantees that, once the remaining cases against Watson end, this protracted distraction will finally be over.

22 responses to “Texans’ settlement with 30 accusers has pros and cons for Deshaun Watson

  1. They did what he should’ve done from the jump without being dragged through the mud, Settle. It was a bone headed misfire for him to let his cases go as far as they did, dumbest decision in the history of the world. smh

  2. Unbelievable how the NFL has let this drag out for this long without taking action on Watson. My gut feeling is that they want him on the field, because that means more ratings and $$$. Look for a light 2-4 game suspension, and the NFL will happily take the criticism because hey, they love dominating the sports news cycle.

  3. If using the same logic of those who say Watson settling shows guilt, if NFL doesn’t punish the Texans now, doesn’t that strengthen Watson lawyers’ defense that management must be held to a higher standard?

    If the Texans don’t get punished for their involvement arranging hotels, there could be risk of grounds for which Watson now can argue not to be punished. What a web of a mess.

  4. Settling does not necessarily imply guilt. Often, it is less expensive to settle than fight the multitude of expenses these cases have generated. Having been a trial attorney for 30 years I have witnessed this repeatedly. The Texans will take a hit in the court of public opinion, though.

  5. In the meantime there are over 1,500 other players in the NFL who surely utilize massage services outside of their respective teams, and yet none of them have been accused of such misconduct, but according to Watson’s camp, and his supporters, this entire situation was one big shakedown by a single attorney. Not only is that argument laughable it’s disgraceful, because there’s NO CHANCE the Texans would have settled unless their lawyers thought they were legally culpable. The indefinite suspension is coming…Book it

  6. Take away the Texans next three first, second and third round picks. Make the owner sell. Kick Watson out of the league. Set a very strict precedence.

  7. Find it a stretch to believe that the Texans knew he was committing sexual assault and chose to ignore it. It’s more likely he made it sound like he was potentially a victim of a money grab and they wanted him to protect himself with a NDA. By paying them they are admitting they should have dug deeper.

  8. Notice how corporations or people (Dan Snyder) with deep pockets will settle a lawsuit rather than go through a protracted public spectacle?
    They don’t attempt to hide behind a bunch of self-righteousness about “proving their innocence”.
    I would imagine that Watson was advised to settle all of this early in the process. This is the product of the arrogance and hubris of the pro athlete. They’re conditioned to never concede anything.
    Watson better be certain he’s going to win.

  9. Sometimes, it’s easier to pay to make a headache go away.

    The Texans did just that.

  10. Yeah, but did he mess with the integrity of the game (sarcasm font)? The NFL will do what it wants per usual. 8-10 games, appealed down to 6. We’ll see.

  11. The more I hear about this degenerate and his enablers, the less I care about watching the NFL…

  12. “Find it a stretch to believe that the Texans knew he was committing sexual assault and chose to ignore it. It’s more likely he made it sound like he was potentially a victim of a money grab and they wanted him to protect himself with a NDA.”

    Watson obviously thinks what he did is okay. But the Texans knew. They thought that his future actions would endanger him to legal issues which is why they gave an NDA. That doesnt protect him against the past. If they thought a woman was making a false frivolous claim, why did they think watson was the problem and would get in future trouble as well for his actions so they tried to avoid that with NDAs?

  13. Is anyone else getting tired of this story? I wish the league would just suspend him and move on. The season is almost here…let’s talk some real football!

  14. I’m suprised none of these women had Comcast cameras in there house. I have many friends that do, either they have cameras but kept it a secret because nothing really happened, or whatever the opposite is. So many women, working in there homes doing this job I have to believe some had home security cameras. My boss in a little shop has them. Maybe this is something the court hasn’t though about yet, i dont know.

  15. WOW from 24 to 30 in no time flat, I wonder what the true number is?

    Possibly 40, maybe 50? And yet there are some here that don’t think Watson has a problem!

  16. lionsnati0n says:
    July 16, 2022 at 7:46 pm
    I’m suprised none of these women had Comcast cameras in there house.
    =============

    They probably do but these offenses didn’t happen in their homes, would you go to a masseuses home to assault them knowing they might/probably have camera’s or maybe even a gun? No, first thing is get them out of their comfort zone where the unknown can happen!

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