The legal battle between Deshaun Watson's team, led by attorney Rusty Hardin, and Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 women who have accused the quarterback of sexual misconduct, has been pretty rough since the start of the situation. In the last few weeks, both sides have accused the other of trying to seek a settlement, while saying that a deal probably isn't in the cards.
“While we have never approached Mr. Buzbee about a settlement, he has approached us on numerous occasions in the past about the possibility of a settlement," Hardin said last week. "We have made clear all along that there would be no settlement unless the terms are made public and all participants are allowed to speak in their own defense at all times. We want none of the participants – the plaintiffs or Mr. Watson – muzzled by a settlement agreement. Mr. Buzbee does not feel the same.”
Buzbee quickly responded on Instagram, his platform of choice during this case. He posted a screenshot of a "mutual non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement related to mediation information," which he said came from Watson's party.
“Contrary to what Mr. Rusty says, we haven’t ‘approached them to settle,’ ever. When they approached us they insisted we sign this. We obviously didn’t reach out to them; they begged us via the Texans to mediate. We hold the cards. The truth sometimes or most of the time hurts!!!! We approached them?!? My ass.”
The Houston Texans bit included in there is interesting. Before the allegations became public, Deshaun Watson was trying to force a trade away from Houston. The franchise has added four quarterbacks this offseason, a pretty clear sign that it knows that Watson will not be playing for them this year however things shake out.
Based on a new, extremely detailed report by Sports Illustratedtouching on every aspect of the case, it does sound like the Texans got involved via a lawyer representing owner Cal McNair. McNair denies that he or the team is getting involved, but acknowledges that one of his lawyers attempted to bring the two sides together.
About two weeks after the first suits against Watson were filed, a lawyer who said he was representing Texans owner Cal McNair did approach both attorneys, seeking to broker a mediation. A statement from the Texans organization, emailed by a team spokesperson, says, “Mr. McNair was aware that his personal attorney contacted both parties to suggest mediation. Mr. McNair has had no personal involvement in any of those discussions. The Houston Texans organization has not had any direct contact with either party.”
Hardin says Watson and his team would only engage in settlement discussions if there was a NDA in place, covering solely the mediation itself, “because they feared Mr. Buzbee would misuse the process.” The NDA, which Hardin’s firm provided to SI, specifies that there is no confidentiality in place after the conclusion of mediation. The lawyer who said he was affiliated with McNair brought the NDA, which was drafted by Hardin’s firm, to Buzbee. Both he and Watson’s agent, David Mulugheta, signed the document, which was dated April 12.
In total, 22 women who work as massage therapists have come forward and joined the suit against Deshaun Watson. Two of the women are accusing the Houston Texans quarterback of sexual assault.