The statement lawyer Thomas Bowers issued Thursday morning after the dismissal of his client Jana Weckerly's sexual assault lawsuit against Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was precise: "Neither Jerry Jones nor the Cowboys organization has paid us any money."
If you're the suspicious sort, you might be wondering if that means NO ONE paid her ANYTHING. A signed jersey from Tony Romo, perhaps? A lifetime of free pizza from Papa John's, maybe? Something.
But let's assume for a second that Weckerly, in fact, did not receive any money when she agreed to the dismissal, which she and Bowers will not appeal. What would make the former stripper, seemingly out of the blue, drop a million-dollar lawsuit?
Chad Ruback, a prominent Dallas appellate attorney, has an educated guess.
"[Jones' lawyer] Levi McCathern filed a motion for sanctions a few days ago. In the motion for sanctions, he explained in great detail how Mr. Bowers knew, or should have known, that his claims were unsupported either by the law or by the facts," Ruback says.
Bowers knew Weckerly's case was frivolous, McCathern argued, so he and his client should have been required to pay Jones, the Cowboys and McCathern's legal fees.
"My guess is those attorney's fees are huge," Ruback says.
Arguments regarding the sanctions were set to be included in Thursday afternoon's hearing about the defendants' request that the case be dismissed because it was filed after the five-year deadline in the statute of limitations.
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"My theory is that upon studying Mr. McCathern's motion and the law, Mr. Bowers became quite concerned that Judge [Dale] Tillery would be granting Mr. McCathern's motion and awarding sanctions," Ruback says. "I imagine that the hearing being scheduled for [Thursday afternoon] and the timing of the settlement are not coincidental."
Mutually agreeing to drop the case would have, potentially, saved Weckerly a ton of money. For McCathern and Jones, it removed all the risk of an unexpected ruling.
Perhaps Bowers' biggest tactical mistake was adding McCathern as a defendant in the suit. Judges, according to Ruback, are wary of attorneys who make their opposition one of the parties to a case, which may have increased the likelihood of a adverse ruling from Tillery.
We may never know whether it was the carrot or the stick that got Jerry out of this one, but at least we have an idea of what the stick might be.