Uber driver hires lawyer who represented Jameis Winston’s accuser from FSU
When defending himself against a new set of accusations, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will be facing a familiar foe.
Via ESPN.com, attorney John Clune is representing the still-unnamed Uber driver who contends that Winston groped her in March 2016. Clune previously represented Erica Kinsman in her lawsuit against Winston, arising from an alleged rape in December 2012.
Clune already has gone on the offensive, questioning the veracity of a contention from Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby that he was in the vehicle at the time, and that nothing happened.
“We have asked the NFL this morning to investigate Mr. Darby and are demanding that he immediately turn his phone over to the NFL so the GPS history can be forensically examined,” Clune tweeted.
Coincidentally, Darby also was a witness to the December 2012 incident.
"[T]o be clear, no one else was in the car besides Mr. Winston and if anyone is ‘confused’, it isn’t the Uber driver,” Clune added. “Mr. Winston’s friend from his FSU days is just making things worse by inserting himself into this.”
How much worse can it get for Winston? As noted last night, if the Uber driver cooperates with the NFL -- and if the NFL believes her (perhaps not even completely, as Ezekiel Elliott learned) -- Winston will be looking at a baseline suspension of six games.
That said, the involvement of Clune gives Winston a window for resolving this matter in a way that virtually ensures no NFL punishment. If Winston’s lawyers can broker a civil settlement with Clune that entails a release of claims and an agreement not to cooperate with the NFL, the case necessarily would be closed.
It’s unclear whether she’d even be interested in a settlement. Clune tweeted that the alleged victim’s “sole purpose is to put other women on notice of this unacceptable behavior as so many other women have recently done.”
Of course, no one ever admits that situations like this are about money. Once a lawyer is retained, however, securing a settlement or a judgment often becomes the only way to pay the lawyer’s fee. And if a contingency agreement is in place, the lawyer has a natural incentive to recover as much money as possible.
Given the threat to Winston’s NFL career, a potential lawsuit has much more value than it otherwise would. In other contexts, that could be viewed as extortion. In the legal industry, it’s called the fair negotiation of viable claims.