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The always-squabbling lawyers in the civil lawsuit against Deshaun Watson have turned their attention to the details of a potential settlement.
Tony Buzbee represents the 22 female massage therapists who allege sexual misconduct against Watson. Rusty Hardin represents the Texans quarterback, who has denied all accusations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. They have challenged each other’s every assertion at every turn as the case makes its way through the early stages of the Texas legal system.
But now there is a hint that a resolution might be closer than expected.
“These women have been roundly criticized,” Buzbee told SI.com. “What Rusty wants is to humiliate them and make them targets of unscrupulous people. So any resolution we would want confidential, and it would also require Mr. Watson getting some counseling.”
That is a sharp turn from a week ago when Buzbee scoffed at Hardin’s claim that a member of the plaintiffs’ team had reached out to the defense about “working things out.” At the time, Buzbee said he is the only one with the authority to negotiate a settlement.
Regardless of which party initiated progress toward a settlement, Hardin contends that full transparency is important to Watson. That could include disclosure of the financial terms awarded.
The shoe typically is on the other foot in a civil litigation case, with the defendant asking for confidentiality and willing to pay a greater amount for secrecy and the plaintiffs arguing for open book as a form of vindication. The NFL is also investigating the allegations.
The Texans have voluntary OTAs beginning Monday and mandatory minicamp beginning June 15. It is not known if Watson – who demanded a trade separate from and prior to the start of the sexual misconduct lawsuit – will be in attendance for or participate virtually for any of those practices.
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