Trials & Litigation

Litigator calls 'trickery' allegations 'ludicrous' in spat with NFL team's ex-general counsel

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The litigator who led a National Football League investigation into sexual harassment at the Washington Football Team is denying a claim by the team’s general counsel that she used “trickery” to learn the details of a 2009 confidential settlement, according to redacted legal filings unsealed Wednesday.

Lawyer Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Stekloff called the claim “ludicrous,” Law360 reports.

Former team general counsel David P. Donovan had sued Wilkinson in November 2020 in a failed bid to stop Wilkinson from revealing details of the settlement, Law360 explains. According to unsealed documents, Donovan alleged that Wilkinson obtained settlement information by falsely telling one of the parties that confidentiality had been waived.

Donovan said Wilkinson’s action constituted “fraudulent trickery of an unwary party.”

Wilkinson responded, however, that she can prove that the team waived privacy agreements by all its former employees.

“One of the first tasks that Wilkinson Stekloff undertook was … to confirm with the team that the firm had authority to tell former employees that the team was releasing them from their confidentiality obligations for purposes of talking to the firm,” Wilkinson wrote.

Donovan dropped his suit two weeks after it was filed because he learned that Wilkinson had already shared details of the settlement with the NFL. Wilkinson’s probe found that there was a culture of harassment among the team staff. The NFL imposed a $10 million team fine in response.

Wilkinson’s lawyer, Jared P. Marx, told Law360 that, “Beth Wilkinson and Wilkinson Stekloff LLP stand by their work in the underlying matter.”

The Washington Post also reported on the unsealed documents.

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