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NFL’s Washington Team Wants Say in Harassment Probe-Related Suit

Dec. 9, 2020, 5:19 PM

The Washington Football Team asked Wednesday to intervene in a suit filed in a Virginia federal court that seeks to keep secret the details of a settlement agreement uncovered by the attorney hired to investigate allegations of sexual harassment in the Washington organization.

David P. Donovan, former general counsel for the team, filed the suit in November against Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Stekloff, whom the team hired in July 2020 to review allegations of misconduct after 15 female ex-employees told The Washington Post they were harassed.

The NFL in August took over the investigation with Wilkinson at the helm.

Donovan’s suit sought to enjoin Wilkinson “from disseminating information that is the subject of a confidential agreement to which plaintiff is a party.” Wilkinson discovered the settlement, about which no information has been made public, during her inquiry.

Donovan voluntarily dismissed the suit in November and the court directed the parties to submit proposed redactions to court filings.

The team, in a new motion filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, argues it has a right to enter the case because it has legally protected interests that no other party will adequately represent.

The team’s “efforts to safeguard its legal interests would be nullified if the documents at issue were to become public before the team has had a chance to propose redactions,” it told the court.

No parties to the action would sufficiently protect the team’s interests because Donovan has already voluntarily dismissed his claims and Wilkinson has been sued in her personal capacity, the team said.

Judge Anthony J. Trenga is assigned to the case.

Dechert LLP represents the team.

The case is Donovan v. Wilkinson, E.D. Va., No. 20-cv-01344, 12/9/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at PHayes@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com