BOSTON – A lawyer for the families of two Cape Verdean men allegedly gunned down by former NFL star Aaron Hernandez will ask a judge to bar the New England Patriots football team from paying Hernandez a $3.25 million contract signing bonus.
A hearing is scheduled Wednesday in Suffolk Superior Court on a request for a preliminary injunction.
Hernandez, once a rising star on one of the most successful teams in America’s most popular sport, is accused of fatally shooting Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012, just weeks before he signed a 5-year, $40 million contract. Prosecutors say Hernandez shot the men as they sat in their car at a stop light after one of the men accidentally spilled his drink on Hernandez at a Boston nightclub.
William Kennedy, an attorney representing the men’s families in wrongful death lawsuits, said the Patriots have challenged Hernandez’s right to receive the bonus. But Kennedy said he wants a court order in case the team is ordered to pay Hernandez.
According to the lawsuit filed by Kennedy, Hernandez has filed a grievance seeking the money, plus $82,000 owed to him by the team.
Stacey James, a spokesman for the team, did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment Wednesday. A lawyer representing the team in the wrongful death suits and a spokesman for the NFL Players Association also did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Kennedy also wants the court to freeze Hernandez’s assets. Each of the lawsuits is seeking $6 million in damages.
The Patriots released Hernandez after his arrest in the 2013 death of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
“It’s really a motion to prevent any further payments to be made by the New England Patriots to Mr. Hernandez pending any further action of the court,” Kennedy said. “What we’re looking to do is preserve as much as we possibly can — any assets — for the satisfaction of the families of the two decedents.”
Hernandez has pleaded not guilty in all three slayings.
Hernandez’s attorney in the wrongful death lawsuits, John Fitzpatrick, said in court papers that the attempt to prevent the team from paying Hernandez is “fundamentally unfair” because Hernandez needs the money to pay for his defence in the three killings and the civil cases.
Depriving Hernandez access to his earnings “would impair his state and federal constitutional rights to counsel and to due process,” the response said.
Fitzpatrick did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
© The Canadian Press, 2014