Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez has enough legal entanglements to keep a mid-size law firm fully employed. He’s now got another one.
According to the Fall River (Mass.) Herald News, the family of Odin Lloyd has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez. Lloyd allegedly was killed by Hernandez in June 2013.
While Hernandez enjoys constitutional protections like the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to the question of whether he’ll be imprisoned for most if not all of the rest of his life for killing Lloyd, civil cases turn on the much lower legal standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.”
A generation ago, O.J. Simpson walked away from murder charges but found himself liable for a $33.5 million civil verdict. Hernandez could see the same outcome, with an acquittal in criminal court and an eight-figure judgment in civil court.
The question now will be the timing of the civil litigation. In most situations, the lawsuit will be put on hold until after the criminal case ends, since at that point the defendant wouldn’t be able to rely on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. In this case, there may be no money left by the time a jury decides Hernandez’s fate.
Hernandez surely still has ample assets, and he’s seeking $3.25 million in earned but unpaid signing bonus from the Patriots and another $2.96 million in guaranteed pay from the team. Lloyd’s family — along with the families of Daniel Abreu and Safiro Furtado — should move aggressively on all of Hernandez’s available property before the money ends up being consumed by his legal bills.