Ted Wells hired by Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings are gearing up for the next steps in their battle with former punter Chris Kluwe.
The Vikings will retain Roberta Kaplan, the prominent New York attorney who successfully argued against the Defense of Marriage Act at the Supreme Court last year, and Ted Wells, whose independent investigation of the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal led to a 144-page report on Jonathan Martin's allegations of workplace misconduct earlier this year.
"We pride ourselves on the workplace environment that we have created, centered on diversity, tolerance and respect," Vikings executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer Kevin Warren said in a statement. "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."
"Ted Wells and I have reviewed the investigative findings and firmly believe that the Vikings have worked incredibly hard to achieve an environment of tolerance within the team and organization," Kaplan told ESPN.com in a statement.
Kluwe published allegations in a Jan. 2 Deadspin piece that special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer made multiple homophobic statements during the 2012 season and that the Vikings cut him in May 2013 because of his support for same-sex marriage.
The Vikings commissioned an independent investigation of the allegations on Jan. 3 and released a 29-page summary of the investigation July 18. The report confirmed one of Kluwe's allegations -- that Priefer made a homophobic remark during the 2012 season -- but did not show a pattern of discrimination or support Kluwe's claims that he was released because of his activism. Priefer apologized for his remark Thursday and will be suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2014 season.
Kluwe and his attorney, Clayton Halunen, said the report contained inaccuracies and planned to file a lawsuit claiming human rights and religious discrimination, defamation and "tortious interference with contractual relations." Halunen had planned to file that lawsuit in Minnesota state court Wednesday but put off legal action once the Vikings agreed to resume negotiations on a possible settlement.
"We believe that we have comprehensively investigated Halunen's client Chris Kluwe's claims that were put forth in the January 2, 2014, Deadspin article and have taken the appropriate action to ensure that we continue to have a workplace environment that respects tolerance, diversity, and inclusion," Vikings executive director of communications Jeff Anderson said in a statement Wednesday. "We are willing to listen to Mr. Halunen's continued concerns but will have no further comment in the interim."
Halunen did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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