-by Jennifer Conway
Aaron Hernandez’s 4-year-old daughter is suing the NFL and New England Patriots for loss of her father’s companionship. The “loss of consortium” lawsuit, filed by a spouse or child for the injury or death of a family member, is independent of the class action lawsuit The American Law Journal reported on in 2014, "NFL Concussion Settlement: Good for Players? Or Better for Owners & Lawyers?"
Hernandez’s lawyer, Jose Baez, says the former football star had been showing signs of CTE, including memory loss, impulsivity, and aggression. Hernandez was serving life-without-parole for the murder of Odin Lloyd when he killed himself in his prison cell in April 2017.
"Defendants were fully aware of the dangers of exposing NFL players, such as Aaron, to repeated traumatic head impacts," the lawsuit said. "Yet, defendants concealed and misrepresented the risks of repeated traumatic head impacts.” - Attorney Jose Baez
CTE is caused by head trauma, but at present can only be fully diagnosed after death. Doctors increasingly cite it as the primary contributing cause of behavioral conditions, mood disorders, and even violence in NFL players.
Hernandez had one of the most severe cases of CTE diagnosed by the research facility, stage 3 of 4. Researchers say the shrinkage and holes in his brain are typical of a 67-year-old; Hernandez was only 27 years old.
Many current and former NFL players signed the concussion settlement agreement, avoiding the cost of an individual suit. Under the settlement, living players with CTE stand to get little or nothing. Which may explain why 200 former players have decided to opt out of the settlement, retaining the right to sue the NFL on their own.
“She’s going to have to get by causation issues. He played three years in the NFL, but played far more Pop Warner football and the University of Florida – and he had violent tendencies before he ever got to the NFL. He was sort of on the Do Not Draft list for so many teams. This is definitely an uphill battle to prevail, but I think their goal is to get by a dismissal motion and maybe pressure the NFL into a settlement – because the NFL does not want to turn over documents or put Roger Goodell, of all people, on the stand. This case, if it gets past the motion to dismiss, maybe she could get a settlement, but this is not an ideal plaintiff. He has so much baggage surrounding him, what juror would find him sympathetic?”
This is likely to be a tough battle. As Reuters reports, the NFL vows to "vigorously" fight the lawsuit.