21 women to surrender anonymity and move forward with civil suits against Deshaun Watson

HOUSTON — Following judicial rulings Friday that multiple women suing Deshaun Watson in civil court cannot retain their anonymity under Texas law, 21 of 22 plaintiffs in the cases moved to continue their litigation with their names attached.

One other plaintiff withdrew her civil case against the Houston Texans quarterback on Tuesday evening, stating that privacy and security concerns had led to her decision to drop her suit “for now.” Meanwhile, 20 of the women involved in the suits had already moved to attach their names to litigation by Wednesday evening. Another woman is expected to follow suit Thursday, after her emergency hearing Wednesday was canceled.

For Watson, it means that 21 separate lawsuits will move forward onto separate tracks toward a trial, with each expected to have its own period of discovery. The attorney for the 22 women, Tony Buzbee, jousted with Watson’s defense team in two hearings late last week, insisting that a revelation of the women’s identities to the public would lead to safety issues. Buzbee made the claim after stating that two alleged victims in the case who revealed their names had already been subject to a wide range of physical threats through various digital messages.

In spite of that argument, two different judges ruled in favor of Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, who stated that precedent in Texas law did not support adult women having “Jane Doe” anonymity protections in the case of civil suits. The judgements against Buzbee’s arguments initially impacted 13 of the 22 accusers. That was ultimately what prompted 21 of the 22 plaintiffs to move forward this week with their names attached to litigation.

It is unknown if the lone woman to drop her suit will file again in the future, although court documents filed Tuesday stated that "Plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such [privacy and security] concerns are addressed. Barring any further withdrawals, settlements or dismissals, the 21 remaining cases will continue into discovery once remaining pretrial parameters have been set."

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