The families of the men that former NFL football star Aaron Hernandez allegedly killed, Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, are requesting that the Patriots provide compensation to them as a part of their wrongful-death suit against Hernandez’s estate.
Aaron Hernandez’s dramatic story of NFL star-turned-alleged-murderer has been well documented in the media and on GCE as well. On April 15, 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of murder in the first degree of Odin Lloyd, a charge that in Massachusetts automatically carries a sentence of life in prison without a possibility of parole.
While that case was on appeal, Hernandez stood trial for the double murder of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado. Ultimately, Hernandez was acquitted of those charges in April of this year. Less than one week later Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell by hanging. Presumably, this was for the purpose of vacating his murder conviction, thanks to an obscure Massachusetts law.
Nevertheless, the families of Abreu and Furtado have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Hernandez in a Suffolk County Court. According to Travis Anderson of the Boston Globe, attorneys Kenneth Kolpan and William Kennedy (who represent the families) made statements calling for the Patriots to compensate the families after a hearing in the case on Tuesday.
“We would welcome the Patriots looking into that issue and doing the right thing, which is to compensate the victims,” said Kolpan, who represents the de Abreu family, via the Boston Globe.
Massachusetts law states that a person or company may be liable for wrongful death if the person or company causes the death of another by:
- negligence, or failing to exercise reasonable care
- a “wanton or reckless act,” or
- a breach of warranty.
In all three cases, a wrongful death claim may be filed if the deceased person could have filed a personal injury case based on the same incident if he or she had lived.
In this way, a wrongful death claim resembles a standard personal injury claim. In both kinds of cases, the negligence, wantonness, recklessness, or breach of warranty of one party is said to have caused the injury of another. In a wrongful death case, however, the injured person is obviously no longer available to bring his or her own lawsuit to court. Instead, another party must bring the claim on behalf of the deceased person.
Here, the families face several legal hurdles. As mentioned, Hernandez was found not guilty in the double-murder case. While this does not shut the door on the possibility of the family recovering in a civil suit, it undoubtedly makes the prospect more difficult. Furthermore, the attorneys would have to prove that the Patriots still owe Hernandez money. The Patriots voided Hernandez’s contract shortly before his death. Nevertheless, the families are banking on the fact that the team still owes Hernandez due to his original conviction being overturned.
Similarly, earlier this year Ursula Ward, Odin Lloyd’s mother, called on the Patriots to pay the $6 million she says they still owe Hernandez’s estate. She’s also filed a wrongful-death suit. Requesting that the Patriots pay these judgments may be the families only hope to recover any significant money. Hernandez’s current estate is reportedly worthless, and the only income it’s expected to receive will come from the sale of Hernandez’s $1 million North Attleboro home.
Judge Douglas H. Wilkins set a July 2018 deadline for both sides in the lawsuit to provide discovery.