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#pounditWednesday, February 8, 2023

Legal Matters

Major development announced in Deshaun Watson scandal

Deshaun Watson on the practice field

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs a play during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Two dozen women have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson, and the Cleveland Browns star has now reached settlements with the majority of them.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents all of the massage therapists who have sued Watson, revealed on Tuesday that 20 of 24 alleged victims have settled with the quarterback. Buzbee emphasized that Ashley Solis, the first woman who came forward with allegations against Watson, has not agreed to a settlement.

Buzbee said the terms of the settlements will not be disclosed. The accusers likely signed nondisclosure agreements in exchange for receiving money from Watson.

Solis was the first massage therapist to go public with a claim against Watson. She accused Watson of intentionally touching her with his penis during a session on March 30, 2020. Solis said last year and during her deposition that Watson’s actions caused her to feel frightened and cry. Watson admitted during his recent deposition in the case that his massage session with Solis ended with her crying and that he later apologized via text message.

The NFL is said to be nearing the end of its investigation into the claims against Watson. A recent report indicated the 26-year-old could be facing a lengthy suspension.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos sued by sister

Dean Spanos looking ahead

Dec 16, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos looks on during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Chargers owner Dean Spanos was sued by his sister, Dea Spanos Berberian, on Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in San Joaquin County Superior Court, accuses Spanos of “misogynistic” behavior, “self-dealing,” and repeated “breaches of fiduciary duty,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Kimberley Martin. With the suit, Berberian wants to remove Spanos as a co-trustee of the family trust that has an ownership stake in the Chargers of over one-third. Berberian wants full control of the family trust, in addition to financial damages.

Dean Spanos, Berberian, and their siblings Michael Spanos and Alexandra Spanos Ruhl each own 15 percent of the Chargers franchise. Spanos and Berberian were left as co-trustees of the trust following the deaths of Alex Spanos, who bought the franchise in 1984, and his wife, Faye Spanos, in 2018. Dean Spanos has run the franchise since 1994.

Berberian accuses her brothers of acting “out of their deeply-held misogynistic attitudes and sense of entitlement as the men in the family” to rationalize their pitiable behavior that she believes is intended to teach her that a woman has no rights.

The suit also alleges that Dean Spanos committed “breaches of fiduciary duty” including diverting $105 million from the trust to various debts, and manipulating the trust to borrow over $60 million.

On Friday, the families of Dean Spanos, Alexis Spanos Ruhl and Michael Spanos, as well as Ruhl herself, released statements of unity against Berberian.

Last year, Berberian filed a petition in Los Angeles County Court alleging that the trust was in debt, and that the only way to pay it off was to sell the team.

Angelos brothers fighting over control of Orioles

Louis Angelos looking ahead

Apr 6, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles executive Louis Angelos attends the pregame ceremony for Frank Robinson before the start of the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles ownership is in the middle of a legal battle over control of the team.

According to a new lawsuit obtained by The Baltimore Banner, Louis Angelos, the son of current team owner Peter Angelos, sued his brother and his mother on Thursday. The suit alleges that Louis’ brother, John Angelos, has taken full control of the team despite their father intending for both sons to have equal control. The suit also claims that Louis’ mother, Georgia Angelos, has wanted to sell the team.

Peter Angelos suffered a failure of his aortic heart valve in 2017, and established a trust fund for his wife and two sons as co-trustees.

Louis Angelos’ attorneys said in a statement that the purpose of the lawsuit is to make sure that his father’s wishes of an equal share of control upon creating the trust is fulfilled amid allegations that John Angelos has been secretly going against his father’s wishes.

John Angelos has served as the Orioles’ vice president since 2020 after being approved by other MLB owners to be the team’s “control person.”

Peter Angelos was the lead investor of a group that purchased the Orioles in 1993 for a $173 million. Today, the team is valued at over $1 billion.

Louis Angelos is asking a Baltimore County Circuit judge to issue an injunction to block his brother from conducting negotiations to sell the Orioles and from taking any action on the family trust. One of Louis’ accusations is that John would like to move the team to Tennessee, where John lives.

While the team’s lease at Orioles Park ends after 2023, there are no allegations in the lawsuit indicating that any actual steps to sell the team have taken place.

For more details on the lawsuit, you can visit The Baltimore Banner.

Rusty Hardin issues statement about baffling radio comment

Rusty Hardin near the media

Oct 8, 2014; Conroe, TX, USA; The attorney Rusty Hardin at the Montgomery county courthouse for the arraignment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (not pictured). Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement on Friday after drawing negative attention for his “happy endings” comment in a radio interview earlier in the day.

Hardin, who is Watson’s lead attorney defending him against allegations of sexual misconduct from 23 women, joined Seth Payne and Sean Pendergast on Sports Radio 610 in Houston Friday. Hardin talked about Watson’s case and made some baffling comments.

Hardin said he wanted to remind those listening that people getting happy endings at the end of massages are not engaging in unlawful activity (full comments here).

Hardin said that unless a payment is exchanged for the sexual favor, then the act is not breaking a law, so long as the activity is consensual. Watson’s legal team has said any sexual activity Watson had with his masseuses after massages was consensual.

The obvious problem is that those who are paying for a massage that includes a sexual favor at the end are breaking the law. So if Watson — or anyone — were paying for massages with the expectation of receiving sexual favors, then he would have been engaging in illegal activity.

Hardin drew so much negative attention over his comments that he issued a statement later on Friday.

“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong,” said a statement sent to Larry Brown Sports and other outlets. “And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.

“On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay. Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case.

“I have reiterated to others it’s not ok to do anything that a woman does not agree to do. These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.”

Watson was investigated by two grand juries in Texas, which both declined to indict him. The Cleveland Browns quarterback is facing 23 lawsuits. We recently learned the price for which he tried to settle the suits.

Price Deshaun Watson offered to settle his lawsuits revealed

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has maintained that he did nothing wrong despite nearly two dozen women accusing him of sexual assault, but the Cleveland Browns star has still tried to settle with some of his accusers. We now have a better idea of what he offered them to drop their lawsuits.

Another lawsuit was filed against Watson on Tuesday, which makes 23 total. One of the footnotes in the latest suit mentions how Watson’s camp offered each of the plaintiffs $100,000 to settle.

That is consistent with what we heard earlier this year. One publication obtained a copy of a settlement offer that Watson supposedly sent to one of the women who is suing him. Watson offered $100,000, with the proposed agreement saying the alleged victim would have to adhere to a strict confidentiality agreement.

Two grand juries in Texas have declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson. The NFL is now investigating the allegations to determine if the star quarterback will face disciplinary action. The civil lawsuits could eventually be tried in front of juries if there are no settlements.

Decision reached in case related to Jerry Jeudy’s recent arrest

Jerry Jeudy without a helmet

Aug 21, 2020; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) during training camp at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jeudy was arrested in Colorado early this month on what initially sounded like troubling charges, but the Denver Broncos star is not going to be convicted of anything.

The district attorney in Arapahoe County moved to dismiss all charges against Jeudy ahead of Tuesday’s scheduled hearing. Jeudy’s attorney said that was the expected outcome for the wide receiver all along.

Jeudy was arrested on May 12 and had faced two non-physical contact domestic violence charges. He was allegedly involved in an incident with the mother of his 1-month-old daughter. Jeudy was accused of withholding the baby’s car seat and medical records, as well as the woman’s wallet. The domestic violence portion of the charges was only due to his relationship with the person who made the allegations.

The alleged victim defended Jeudy in court and said he never made physical contact with her and she never felt threatened in any way.

Jeudy, 23, is entering his third NFL season. He was limited to 10 games last season due to an ankle injury he suffered early in the year.

Resolution reached in Von Miller explicit photo lawsuit

Von Miller before a game

Jun 1, 2021; Englewood, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) during organized team activities at the UCHealth Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Von Miller was sued last month by a woman who claims the Buffalo Bills star distributed a sexually explicit photo of her without her permission, and a resolution has been reached in the case.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, the revenge porn lawsuit was dismissed on Wednesday. The woman who filed the suit was seeking “monetary damages.” It is possible some sort of settlement was reached.

The lawsuit claimed that Miller and a woman he dated in 2020 took photos together while engaging in sex acts. The two agreed that the photos would never be shared with anyone else, but the woman alleges that Miller shared one of the photos with “two well-known celebrities.” She said he did so while “in a fit of jealousy, anger, and rage.”

Miller was accused of sending the photo to two different people minutes apart on May 7, 2020. He allegedly wrote, “This the b–ch you want?” in two different messages along with the photo. You can read more details about the allegations here.

Miller, 33, was on the other side of a legal situation involving sexually explicit material several years ago.

Miller helped the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl last season after they acquired him in a trade with the Denver Broncos. He signed a six-year, $120 million deal with the Bills earlier this offseason.

Jon Gruden scores initial victory in lawsuit against NFL

Jon Gruden smiling

Aug 18, 2021; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden during a joint practice against the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Gruden on Wednesday scored an initial legal victory in his lawsuit against the NFL.

Gruden is suing the NFL, alleging that they held onto emails and selectively leaked them with the purpose of forcing Gruden to lose his job as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The NFL filed a motion to dismiss the case and a motion to compel arbitration. Nevada judge Nancy L. Allf on Wednesday denied both motions. The NFL argued that arbitration is necessary due to Gruden’s contract with the Raiders. But the former head coach’s legal team countered that Gruden is not bound to his contract since he resigned from his job on Oct. 11. Judge Allf agreed.

The NFL plans to appeal the judge’s decision.

If the league does not win an appeal, then the case could head to trial unless a settlement is reached. The league has a strong tendency to settle its lawsuit in an effort to avoid negative publicity that could arise through the discovery process.

Gruden, 58, resigned as Raiders head coach in October after numerous emails he sent from his personal account to then-Buccaneers executive Bruce Allen were leaked to a few media outlets. The emails, which were written between 2011-2018, contained gay slurs and other inappropriate content.

Big Baby Davis violated his bail again by attending NBA playoff game

Glen Davis sitting courtside

Glen “Big Baby” Davis apparently cannot stop acting a fool.

The retired former Boston Celtics big man attended Monday’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and the Miami Heat. He was seated front and center by one of the baskets and could be seen munching on snacks during the game. The ABC broadcast even gave Davis a few seconds of dedicated airtime.

But unfortunately, Davis was actually in violation of his bail by attending the game. According to legal news service Law360, Davis was admonished by a Manhattan federal judge on Tuesday over the episode and threatened with pretrial detention if he committed another violation.

“You have fouled out, in basketball terms,” U.S. district judge Valerie Caproni reportedly told Davis. “If there’s another foul, you’re going straight from here to the MDC [Manhattan Detention Complex] … You’re going to get caught because you’re all over social media, so you’ve got to comply with these rules.”

Davis was one of several former NBA players arrested last October on fraud charges for an alleged scheme involving the NBA’s Health and Welfare Benefit Plan. You can read the details about the case here.

The terms of Davis’ $200,000 bail package restrict his travel to New York and California prior to trial. Monday’s Eastern Conference Finals game took place in Boston, which is why Davis violated his bail by attending.

Absurdly enough, Davis had already committed a violation of his bail by attending another Celtics game a couple months ago (and even having a viral moment during that game). Davis seems to be totally unbothered in continuing to attend these NBA games, but it is probably time for him to start being bothered.

CeeDee Lamb sued by trading card company

CeeDee Lamb celebrates a catch

Oct 17, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes the catch and runs the ball for the game winning touchdown in overtime at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys star CeeDee Lamb is being sued by a trading card company.

According to a lawsuit that was obtained by Mike Fisher of Cowboys Country, trading card company Leaf Trading Cards is suing Lamb for an alleged breach of contract. The firm claims the wide receiver failed to honor a written agreement to autograph cards, which led to orders being left unfulfilled.

Leaf CEO Brian Gray issued a statement on Twitter after the lawsuit was filed.

Lamb appears to have signed some of the cards, but Leaf claims he did not fulfill his obligations. The company is seeking damages and attorney fees.

Lamb is in his third year with the Cowboys. He is expected to be their clear No. 1 wide receiver after they traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Lamb had 79 catches for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns last season.