The “Royal We” Provision: Newly Released Settlement Favors Prince Andrew as One of Epstein’s “Other Defendants”

The civil litigation between Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts) just took a “Big Lebowski” turn.

In the movie, there is a scene “The Dude” is pressed on what happened to a million dollars in a suitcase. He insists “We dropped off the damn money…” When the Big Lebowski asks “We?,” the Dude responds “I! The Royal ‘we’!…”

It turns out that the settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein contains what Prince Andrew might claim is a “Royal We provision.” In exchange for half a million dollars, the settlement expressly bars Giuffre from suing not just Epstein but “other defendants.” Prince Andrew is arguing effectively that the plural reference includes him.

We previously discussed an interesting challenge by Prince Andrew to the applicability of the age-of-consent in New York to the case.  He has also challenged (unsuccessfully) the claim that Giuffre is a resident, alleging that she lives in Australia in a $1.7 million home with her husband.

Yet, the long-secret 2009 settlement (below) contains a provision that would seem to favor Prince Andrew in seeking dismissal. In exchange for $500,000, Giuffre agreed not only to release Epstein from any liability but any “other defendants” associated with him. Giuffre agreed to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge the said Second Parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (‘Other Potential Defendants’) from all, and all manner of, action and actions” that she may bring, whether “state or federal.”

That is pretty sweeping and the agreement was signed after the alleged incidents involving Prince Andrew.

One thing that the agreement does not include is a reference to “royalty.” Bizarrely, counsel for Prince Andrew claimed publicly that the agreement exempted “royalty.” The prince’s lawyer Andrew B. Brettler wrote that “because Prince Andrew is a senior member of the British royal family, he falls into one of the expressly identified categories of persons, i.e., royalty, released from liability under the Release Agreement, along with politicians, academicians, businessmen, and others allegedly associated with Epstein.”

Nevertheless, the absence to a reference to royalty does not matter if this is viewed as a Royal We provision.  Epstein clearly wanted a complete and final settlement not only for himself but his friends.

Giuffre’s attorney David Boies has suggested that the agreement would not include Prince Andrew because he was not subject to any litigation or allegations in Florida where it was finalized. However, such settlements often extend beyond the state of execution and this agreement expressly refers to any actions that Guiffre could bring in “state or federal” courts.

While the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York successfully argued that the actions of Florida prosecutors could not bind it, it is more difficult to argue that a comprehensive civil settlement does not bind a party who received half a million dollars in exchange for her consent.

Look again at the language (emphasis added):

HEREBY remise, release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge the said Second Parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (“Other Potential Defendants”) from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including State or Federal, cause and causes of action (common law or statutory), suits, debts, dues, sums of money, accounts, reckonings, bonds, bills, specialties, covenants, contracts, controversies, agreements, promises, variances, trespasses, damages, judgments, executions, claims, and demands whatsoever in law or in equity for compensatory or punitive damages that said First Parties ever had or now have, or that any personal representative, successor, heir, or assign of said First Parties hereafter can, shall, or may have, against Jeffrey Epstein, or Other Potential Defendants for, upon, or by reason of any matter, cause, or thing whatsoever (whether known or unknown), from the beginning of the world to the day of this release.

It seems strange that Epstein would have forked over this amount of money for a Florida-only settlement given his involvement with Giuffre and other victims in homes around the world. Giuffre could argue that, regardless of his intent, the device itself was poorly worded by referencing any party “who could have been included as a potential defendant” in that action.

Notably, Prince Andrew was referenced in Florida court filings in December 2014 as part of Giuffre’s description of being trafficked to him on at least three occasions as an under aged girl.  She alleged that she was recruited by Ghislaine Maxwell (who was just convicted of related crimes) when she was working as a locker room attendant at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort owned by President Donald Trump.

At a hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan seemed to balk at the idea of dismissing the action based on the agreement. He made a rather convoluted observation that “If what the intention of the parties had been was to release any other person or entity who was in any way involved in any of the sexual activities with Mr. Epstein or others, it would have been easy to say it.” However, it is hard to understand what Epstein intended by such sweeping language if not to secure a waiver of claims against people like Prince Andrew.

Judge Lewis suggested, as a secondary rationale, that he could deny the motion on the basis that Epstein himself would have to enforce it and Epstein is dead: “If someone got sued and Epstein says, look, this person was within the release and it was OK with Giuffre, then it could be made available and Epstein could enforce it but not otherwise.”

So the question is whether this is indeed a Royal We provision with “other defendants.”  One thing is clear. Prince Andrew has a stronger basis for arguing that he was included in this sweeping provision than proving his earlier claim that he is incapable of being the sweaty person described by Giuffre on a dance floor at “Club Tramp.”

Here is the settlement: Epstein-Giuffre Settlement

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 thoughts on “The “Royal We” Provision: Newly Released Settlement Favors Prince Andrew as One of Epstein’s “Other Defendants””

  1. The rule being that settlement agreements are generally interpreted/constructed as against the drafter…

  2. The question of what persons or entities are protected by broadly-worded language in a release form is something that is often heavily litigated. Like most contracts, the intent and knowledge of the parties control. I’ve seen cases in which such language that conceivably could have released parties was held by a court not to apply. I note that Turley’s carefully-worded piece doesn’t claim it’s a slam-dunk that the Prince got released, because he knows that’s not the case. Now, what could have been done to clearly release the Prince would have been to include the Prince and other miscreants of his ilk specifically by name as “released parties”, but doing so would constitute an admission that they had engaged in wrongdoing, so it wasn’t done. There was no consideration for releasing the Prince, and there are strong arguments that he was not intended to be released.

    1. Prof said; ”
      “Look again at the language (emphasis added):”

      “HEREBY remise, release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge the said Second Parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (“Other Potential Defendants”) from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including State or Federal, cause and causes”. If he (Edward) wasn’t included, he was a potential and accordingly would be signed off in the greement. Don’t the words such as: all, always, never, have specific meanings? ai would not say that Edward, Billy Clinton, Dersowich or any of those allegely and seemingly implicated ones are not guilty., nor miscreants, and their ilk are not guilty again. I also remember in a certain movie, Wilford Brimley told Paul Neuman et als, “when I leave here; someone’s ass will be in my briefcase.

  3. Giuffre accepted a large sum of money to drop all suits against all parties. And then she proceeded with suits against other parties.

    Choices have consequences. You can’t choose money over justice, and then later decided to pursue justice as well. You can’t have it both ways.

    $500,000 wasn’t any significant punishment to someone of Epstein’s means. Such a settlement wouldn’t provide punishment through financial means.

    She still does not seem to have learned that when you make a choice, you’re giving up the other options.

    I have no doubt that this woman was taken advantage of, used, and trafficked.

    But here is what I still have not discovered. What means was used to get her to sleep with these men? Peer pressure? Grooming? Threats of violence? Kidnapping? Physical violence? The photo of the smiling girl shows that she exhibited outward signs of wanting to be there.

    If she was of age in the state the alleged encounter happened, she appeared to be there willingly, and Prince Andrew was unaware of any duress, then what is she suing Prince Andrew for?

    Naive people get used all too frequently. Look at the courtesans flocking to the wealthy, tech geniuses, rock stars, movie stars, Arab sheiks and princes. There are women who think they’ll find a rich boyfriend or husband, and there are those who are there for the gifts, trips, and yachts. Then when they find out later they were just being used, some of them become bitter and angry. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

    Think about the cliche scene of the rich playboy in movies. He’s on a yacht, surrounded by beautiful young women in bikinis. How do you think the girls got there? One of them made a connection to someone who knew the rich guy, got invited, and told to bring her friends.

    Similarly, stories of Epstein involved young women giving him massages for money, or worse, and then inviting their friends to do the same. Then when they got a little wiser, they felt sad and used. Trafficked women seem to get brainwashed, because recruiting other girls into their misery is common.

    What happened with Giuffre? Did she get talked into something she willingly did for a number of months, only to regret it afterward? Did she bring her friends? Was she threatened? Physically forced?

    There is a difference between someone getting talked into something they later regret, and being held against their will. A big difference. Her age, and the statue of the age of consent, are also critical components.

    We need more information in order to evaluate this situation. No matter what, it’s terribly sad.

  4. Where were this girl’s parents?

    Was she restrained and bound with ligatures?

    Some girls take the world on of their own volition, and runaway from home and parental/school discipline?
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    The Child as Sovereign

    Chores, Homework, Piano and Church Activities Are Malice
    _______________________________________________

    “Then she will become quite resourceful and realise that she can go away and stay away and make her parents hurt in the process. This is her way of saying that she can control her own life and that she should have more autonomy.”

    Why Do Teenage Girls Run Away From Home?

    “But when a child puts herself at the mercy of the streets on purpose, it is not usually because they have been enticed away or grabbed, says family psychologist and author Dr Justin Coulson, but because they want to grab control. Dr Coulson says emotional and relational issues are the main drivers for children who run away, usually problems with parents. “Most often, the issue will be one of control, the parents are becoming extremely forceful, dominating, demanding and controlling,” he says. “The girl feels helpless and so she decides the only way that things can improve is by running away. This is the ultimate way for her to demand autonomy.” Parents whose demands on the child are increasing may find their daughter “essentially shrugs her shoulders and says ‘fine, I’m leaving’ and then disappears”. While it’s a powerful way for a child to express discontent with what’s going on at home, and kids have always run away, it’s an extreme most parents dread, and seems an especially harsh punishment for what parents may believe is simply their strong parenting style. Frustratingly for parents, the triggers for a girl to take off may not be easy to see. “Quite often a girl will run away in the heat of the moment without giving it a lot of thought,” says Dr Coulson. “Then she will become quite resourceful and realise that she can go away and stay away and make her parents hurt in the process. This is her way of saying that she can control her own life and that she should have more autonomy.” What started as a hot-headed act of spontaneity can become a learned response and ‘go to’ behaviour; “a way for a girl to assert herself”, he says. Dr Coulson believes that the number of girls who go temporarily missing that can be attributed to them being lured away by someone online is likely a small proportion of all girls who depart the home. When they do so, it’s a sign there are issues that need addressing, some of them likely the parents’ issues. “In most cases, girls will not run away unless they are given a reason to. At all too often we as parents give them reasons because of our belligerence, demands, our assertions, and our controlling parenting strategies,” says Dr Coulson. Running away may also be a sign a girl has poor emotion-regulation skills, or poor coping skills: “It may suggest that child has a low threshold or capacity for dealing with challenge. And it’s obviously an ineffective coping strategy.”

    – Daily Telegraph, Dr Justin Coulson

  5. BACK TO THE FUTURE
    ___________________

    Genesis 25

    5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.

    6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

  6. It’s inexplicable to me why the government didn’t use Virginia Giuffre as a witness in the trial. I can only think of one possible reason. They didn’t believe her.

    1. can only think of one possible reason. They didn’t believe her.

      The never had any confidence they had any idea of what might be revealed on cross examination. Old lawyer lore says never ask a question you dont already know the answer to. Unless they knew certain how she would answer the question on cross, its best to leave her be.

  7. To me, this clause is meaningless since it does not name those additionally protected, nor an timeframe for an alleged injury. The language is so sweeping as to include anyone, and so obliges Giuffre to give up basic civil rights that cannot be given up in an agreement. Whoever crafted this clause (Dersh?) obviously felt that naming names would be worse than somewhat softer protection for the unnamed.

  8. The problem: In exchange for $500,000, Giuffre agreed not only to release Epstein from any liability but any “other defendants” associated with him.

    $500,000, even $1 million isn’t a lot of money these days when factoring in inflation. Giuffre needs more cash. Remember, diamonds are a girls best friend. Yes, diamonds for moments like no other.

  9. The op-ed by Dershowitz is quite interesting. A teaser follows:

    “Although Giuffre was a central figure in the Maxwell case, mentioned repeatedly throughout the trial, she was not called as a government witness. Why was she not called? Probably for two reasons: first she would be cross-examined by the defense about her own crimes in being paid to bring underage girls to Epstein; and second, she would be confronted with the numerous lies she has told under oath. Her own lawyers have disputed her and acknowledged that she was “wrong” in accusing prominent people. And her own emails, book manuscript and prior interviews with the FBI contradict her current accusations.” …”The testimony by Carolyn regarding Giuffre’s sordid role in victimizing very young girls cannot be ignored, especially since the government elicited it from their own witness…”

    https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/18088/dramatic-testimony-from-the-maxwell-case-will

  10. Like every other “we”, it needs a swirly swim on a regular basis so it doesn’t leave a stain.

  11. Is a Settlement such as this equivalent to a Rights Waiver of Liability?

    It does sound like the Royal He is now down to claiming to be a Royal We…having argued unsuccessfully other escape routes along the way to his position extant.

  12. IANL. Seems to me Giuffre has agreed to sign away her rights to sue. That’s on her. Not sure why we are trying to muddy up the discussion with facts not relevant.

  13. Question: How do a locker room attendant and a math teacher manage to own and operate a private island, mansion get-away with jets, nymphs and all the trimmings? Answer: That attendants father was Mossad royalty. Honeytrap anyone?

  14. Where is the statute of limitations in all this? Giuffre is 38; she was about 26 (age of majority, not under any exception from a statute of limitations) when the settlement was concluded. Could someone (e.g., Prof. Turley) help me out?

  15. Playing the “devils advocate” no “other” case concerning Epstein will ever be brought to justice when Dershowitz authors a settlement agreement.

    1. OMG! It’s Sergeant York, Audie Murphy and Seal Team Six all rolled into one great big combat hero, awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

      He single-handedly won the Vietnam Police Action.

    2. Marine “The problem: In exchange for $500,000, Giuffre agreed not only to release Epstein from any liability but any “other defendants” associated with him.”. Seems like a slam dunk to me.
      BUT lawyers can argue whether it is raing or sunshine, whether night or day, as it is always doing all 4 some where on the planet at any tume. Most State general Assemblies (Just like DC politicians) the lawmakers are mostly attornies. They make laws intentionally leaving loopholes, etc as they will be practicing law when not in the Gen Assembly. Most Fed DC lawmakers will not be practicing law, they will be, allegedly, utilizing inside info to buy, sell, short the stock market. Do you know what causes the earth to rotate? Selah

  16. When it comes to the very rich or a celebrity, money is not spent to attract a women; rather; it is spent to be left alone!

    1. Jeff:

      Of course certain wealthy men spend lavishly on women. They fly them to Vegas for a show and high roller gambling, the stay comped, get them jewelry, their own place, shopping with a personal style assistant, 5 star dining, skiing in Switzerland, polo, art collecting, etc.

      There are wealthy men who eschew fawning groupies and attention. They drive sensible cars and dress toned down. Then there are the playboys who view women as a status symbol, and act accordingly. There are those who surround themselves with a bevy of women, like rappers, athletes, and Arab princes while in town. Then there are those wealthy who date gorgeous women without any intention of settling down with them. They lead girls on, sure, but a lot of men do so.

      Geez, the swath the Arabs alone would cut when they were in LA was quite wide.

      If you are referring to settlements and NDAs to avoid scandal, then yes, absolutely, but they also spend money attracting women. If a woman’s just a courtesan, then she’d bore quickly of a wealthy man who was stingy.

      1. Karen says:

        “If you are referring to settlements and NDAs to avoid scandal, then yes, absolutely, but they also spend money attracting women. If a woman’s just a courtesan, then she’d bore quickly of a wealthy man who was stingy.”

        Apparently, you speak with some authority! Fortunately, I’m neither a celebrity nor rich like a sheik so I don’t have this problem.

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