Time Inc.wants deal with Coach Price thrown out.

In a surprising move, lawyers for Time, Inc. requested that their settlement with football coach Mike Price be thrown out on the grounds that the plaintiffs violated an agreement to make only limited comments about the settlement which had been reached last week to settle Price's $20,000,000 lawsuit against Sports Illustrated for defamation. Full article here on the ESPN.com web site.

Attorney Steve Heninger, counsel for the UTEP football coach, denied that they had violated any of the term of the agreement, and further stated that he would file a motion to enforce the agreement, and that neither he nor his client had released the terms of the deal, nor would they.

The whole issue of confidentiality agreements is one fraught with peril, as what is "limited comments" by one side, might be an opus on the case by the other. I vividly remember the first major headline case I ever settled as a young man back in 1982. It was the Copley Hotel fire case, which obtained great notoriety as Sumner Redstone was a guest of the hotel, and he courageously hung by the sill of his 5th floor window, the fire burning his hands, until he was rescued by the Boston Fire Department. My good friend, and then adversary in the case, was Attorney Jan Schlichtmann who represented the estate of one of the victims of the fire. After protracted negotiations we finally settled on an amount, part cash, a large portion structured, with the net FUTURE value of all payments exceeding $10,000,000, while the settlement amount, which was substantial, was quite a bit less then that.

The defense team requested that Attorney Schlichtmann keep the settlement private, which he declined to do, stating that he would only advise the local legal press that a case had been settled. I was awakened the next morning, on a Saturday by a phone call from the claims manager I worked with case with. "Kid, go get a copy of the Boston Herald, you won't believe it." Well, there on the front page of the Saturday edition was a full page photo of our adversary, with his partners, under the screaming tabloid headline, " Boston lawyer obtains $10 million settlement in hotel fire"

So much for just mentioning it to the local legal press.

My point is, confidentiality agreements are usually hard to enforce, foolish, and cause more pain then they save. Settle the case, state the facts, and move on. I suggest Time let this sleeping dog lie and not continue to draw attention to their settlement, but then, what does an old settlement guy know about such things.

Posted on October 12, 2005 .