For the first time in a long time, we had gone a few days in a row with no movement and no noise from the Deshaun Watson legal proceedings. The last we had heard from either camp was Tony Buzbee's Friday night Instagram post in response to Rusty Hardin's one hour press conference on Friday afternoon. That ended on Tuesday evening, as Buzbee, with the clock ticking for him to refile 14 of the 22 cases against Watson, per court orders, with actual names of plaintiffs included, issued a statement announcing plans to refile all 22 cases.
Here is Buzbee's statement issued on Tuesday evening (full PDF at the bottom of this post):
"We previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course. We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world. The Watson team refused our offer of compromise, and instead insisted that we amend our petitions to name these women. It appears the Watson team thinks that if these courageous women are forced to identify themselves, they would slink away and not pursue this matter. Watson and his counsel badly miscalculated. Due to the bravery of Ashley Solis to come forward publicly, and despite the death threats she has experienced, these women are now emboldened. Today we are amending our petitions to disclose the names of the victims, even those not currently subject to any court order. The message to Watson’s team from these brave women is: “be careful what you ask for.” We would also add that, with regard to the new defense of “consent” that was proffered at the Friday Watson team press conference, we must say: Mr. Watson may now claim he had consent to do what he did to these victims, but let’s be clear—in their minds he didn’t have consent, PERIOD."
To be clear, while Buzbee is preemptively refiling these cases with plaintiff names, and using the lack of a court order to do so on at least eight of them as a demonstration of strength and defiance, the courts likely would have had him refile all 22 cases anyway.
For what it's worth, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network provided confirmation from Hardin shortly after Buzbee's releasing his statement that 20 of the plaintiff names had been provided, but that one plaintiff withdrew her case. They were waiting for the name of the last plaintiff.
#Texans QB Deshaun Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, tells me one of the women who accused Watson of sexual misconduct has dropped her civil lawsuit. “We believe we have names for 20 of the 22 lawsuits. We’ve got one dismissed and we’re looking for one (name).”— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 14, 2021
So, now there are 21 of 22 plaintiffs continuing the legal process, even with their names being made public. This has to be considered a success for Buzbee.
The tone of Buzbee's Tuesday evening statement is consistent with his tone throughout this saga — vigilant and unwavering. Despite the contentions from Watson and Hardin that any sexual activity occurring during these massages was consensual, Buzbee is adamant that is not the case, that Watson forced himself on the alleged victims.
The next step is for Watson to file a formal answer to each lawsuit, and in each response, he will address each accusation one by one. Unless there is some sort of resolution with a batch of settlements with the accusers, the cases will proceed to trial, a process that could literally take years with this many lawsuits, and a court system that already moves at a glacial pace.
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