Ted Wells and Roberta Kaplan are joining the Vikings legal team as they brace for a possible lawsuit from former punter Chris Kluwe just eight days before the two sides were scheduled to meet and discuss a possible settlement.
Wells provided the NFL with a report earlier this year on the atmosphere of bullying in the Miami Dolphins locker room. Kaplan is best known for her work opposing the Defense of Marriage Act.
Clayton Halunen, Kluwe's attorney, said on Tuesday there's an Aug. 6 meeting scheduled between Vikings management and their lawyers. It will be the first time Kluwe and his attonrey will meet with Vikings management since July 17, the day before the team released a 29-page summary.
Halunen first felt hopeful once he heard news about the Vikings retaining Wells and Kaplan but said this afternoon he was suspicious by the moves, specifically Kaplan's recognition with the LGBT community.
"I think it’s very convenient at this stage with their fourth law firm that they’re bringing in someone from the community," Halunen said. "It sounds to me like a strategy to obtain public support because the LGBT community has been outspoken about what’s happened and the refusal to make the report public. This is merely an effort to try to address those concerns that have been made public."
A source said during the investigation there was a six-month tolling agreement signed on Aug. 1 that no law suit would be filed in the case. Halunen confirmed the tolling agreement is set to expire on Aug. 1 but both sides are working on an extension beyond the Aug. 6 meeting.
Once the tolling agreement expires, Kluwe is free to continue with his lawsuit. He has threatened to sue for more than $10 million because the team won’t release the full investigation into his claims about what he calls its culture of discrimination. Kluwe and Halunen said that “substantial” evidence was left out of the 29-page summary of the report that the team released two weeks ago.
The summary concluded Priefer did, and he has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season.
Here is the official Vikings release on adding the high-powered attorneys:
VIKINGS RETAIN ROBERTA KAPLAN AND TED WELLS
“We pride ourselves on the workplace environment that we have created, centered on diversity, tolerance and respect. In consideration of our standards and the great sensitivity to the issues raised by Chris Kluwe and his attorney - and their potential litigation – the Vikings have retained Roberta Kaplan and Ted Wells, two well-respected and extremely experienced partners at Paul, Weiss, as well as Minneapolis-based Joseph Anthony, founding shareholder and chief executive officer of Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie P.A., to serve as the team’s counsel.” – Kevin Warren, Executive Vice President of Legal Affairs & Chief Administrative Officer.
Kaplan most recently has been recognized for successfully arguing before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of her pro bono client Edith Windsor in United States vs. Windsor, the 2013 landmark Supreme Court case in which the nation’s highest court ruled that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the U.S. Constitution by barring legally married same-sex couples from enjoying the wide-ranging benefits of marriage conferred under federal law. As a result of that case, at least 28 courts throughout the United States have since relied explicitly on Windsor and held that gay couples should be accorded equal rights under the law.
Among other areas of expertise, Wells has extensive litigation experience in complex civil and corporate litigation. He has been recognized as one of the best jury trial lawyers in the United States by numerous publications. Wells recently led the thorough investigation concerning issues of workplace conduct with the Miami Dolphins.
Anthony has tried a significant number of cases and arbitrations to verdict in Minnesota and throughout the country. For the past 15 years he has been selected to the Minnesota "Super Lawyer” list and has been ranked by Super Lawyer Magazine in the top 2 or 3 trial lawyers in the state since 2008.
At this time, the Vikings will have no further comment about this pending litigation.