The National Football League believes the lawsuit brought about by the former fiancée of Aaron Hernandez belongs as part of the class-action lawsuit the NFL settled with thousands of former players.
Shayana Jenkins Hernandez disagrees, citing one key reason: the 5-year-old daughter he left behind who was robbed of the opportunity to ever really get to know her father.
According to court documents filed last week and obtained by The Blast, Jenkins Hernandez is arguing that her case on behalf of her daughter, Avielle, stands on its own because Avielle never played for the National Football League and is not suing over injuries she suffered.
Rather, Jenkins Hernandez claims, her lawsuit is about loss of parental consortium — which is defined as the child's right inhering in the parent-child relationship for the loss of "parental aid, protection, affection, society, discipline, guidance and training."
Lawyers for Jenkins Hernandez argue that their claim of loss of parental consortium belongs to the minor child and any claim relating to CTE belongs to Hernandez and thus they are a separate action.
Her lawyers write:
Plaintiff’s sole claim, loss-of-parental-consortium, belongs to the minor-child, independent of the decedent. Irrespective of decedent’s phantom settlement-class membership, which Plaintiff vigorously disputes, Massachusetts law on parental consortium separates Plaintiff’s claim from the decedent’s claims; it belongs only to this child and not to the estate or decedent. As articulated in Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand, Plaintiff’s legally free-standing consortium claim is both bereft of federal jurisdiction and also impossible to release through a settlement Defendants purport to have bound only her father.
Hernandez's legal team tells The Blast that Avielle never had a normal relationship with Aaron. They say that while it is difficult to build such a relationship from behind bars, other inmates are able to — but Aaron Hernandez was not due to the CTE he suffered as a result from his playing in the NFL.
Hernandez killed himself while in jail on April 19, 2017. Five months later, it was revealed by researchers at the Boston University CTE Center that Hernandez's brain injuries were some of the worst they had ever seen for a person his age.
The case is ongoing.