Family of Aaron Hernandez Hits NFL and Patriots with Lawsuit After CTE Diagnosis
On September 21, 2017, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, as guardian of Avielle Hernandez, who is four-years-old and Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots for their negligence that caused Aaron Hernandez to develop a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The lawsuit seeks damages for the loss of parental consortium, alleging that the NFL’s and the Patriots’ conduct cost Hernandez’s daughter his love and affection. In a civil cover sheet for the suit the damages demanded was $20 million.
After Hernandez’s suicide in April, his brain was examined at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center, which is renowned for its research on the disease, to determine whether he had CTE. The examination found that he had stage three out of four of CTE. Stage three is typically found in players with a median age of death of 67. The complaint alleges that Hernandez had “the most severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy medically seen in a person of his young age” by the center. Symptoms of CTE include: impulse control issues, aggression, depression, dementia, and suicidality. At the time of his death, Hernandez was serving life in prison pending his appeal of the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, and had just been acquitted of two 2012 murders.
The suit claims that by the time Hernandez entered the NFL, the defendants were fully aware of the damage that could be caused from repetitive impact injuries and that they failed to disclose, to treat, or to protect from these dangers. This breach of duty of care allegedly exposed Hernandez to repeated traumatic head impacts from 2010 to 2013 that greatly increased the risk he would develop CTE, or other degenerative neurological disorders. George J. Leontire of Baez Law Firm, who represents Hernandez’s daughter, stated that, “the complaint makes an overwhelming, compelling case as to the negligence of both the NFL and, in this case, the Patriots, with respect to their utter failure and disregard for the severe injuries players like Aaron Hernandez receive over the course of time.” Hernandez’s suit is yet another suit against the NFL involving players who suffered from CTE, and other diseases including: dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).