Hernandez’s Daughter Fights Back to Keep Suit in State Court
On November 20, 2017, counsel for Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, opposed the NFL’s bid to pause her lawsuit as well as the NFL’s removal of the case into federal court. The lawsuit blames Hernandez’s violent behavior, as he committed suicide in prison while waiting for his appeal of his murder conviction, on his after-death diagnosis of stage three chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Specifically, the suit alleged that the NFL and helmet maker Riddell, Inc. concealed information that linked football to CTE and mild traumatic brain injuries.
In Avielle Hernandez’s counsel’s opposition to the NFL’s request to stay the case until the multidistrict litigation is decided, her counsel argued that the case is unrelated to the multidistrict litigation and should immediately continue in state court. Further, Avielle’s counsel argued that pausing the case would place a significant hardship on Hernandez’s family, but the NFL would be unaffected. Counsel claimed the NFL is also faced with other CTE-related wrongful death suits that are also outside of the multidistrict litigation. Addressing the multidistrict litigation, Avielle’s counsel argued that it consists of a consolidation of suits brought by former NFL players, not player’s family members, and is entirely unrelated to Avielle’s case.
Avielle’s counsel moved to have the case remanded back to Massachusetts state court because they asserted her claims arise from Massachusetts consortium law. Her counsel argued the claims connect to the state law because the NFL’s and Riddell’s breach of duty to the public is a loss of consortium because the NFL allegedly concealed research showing the potential for CTE that Hernandez suffered from. The breach of duty resulted from the NFL allegedly concealing the link between football and CTE and mild traumatic brain injuries while at the same time publishing and advising the public on the science of brain injuries relating to football. In addition, Avielle’s counsel alleged that the NFL employed a doctor who published false findings while encouraging parents to sign kids up for NFL-led youth programs. The NFL and Riddell are also alleged to have negligently licensed inadequate helmets that did not sufficiently protect players. Further, Avielle’s counsel argued the NFL framed Avielle’s claims to fit under the Labor Management Relations Act through the labor contract, but that it was irrelevant. Overall, Avielle Hernandez’s counsel argued to keep the case moving in state court.