NORTH ATTLEBORO — A judge today temporarily seized the palatial Westwood Estates home of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez while a wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the family of the man he is accused of killing, is pending.
In addition, the Patriots organization, which is also a defendant in the lawsuit, agreed not to pay Hernandez the more than $3.25 million he is believed to be owed under his contract if a grievance filed by the NFL Players Association on behalf of Hernandez is successful.
The players union filed the grievance against the Patriots when the team stopped paying the former tight end after his June 26 arrest in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston.
Hernandez, 24, is being held in jail without bail and was not present for the brief hearing. He has pleaded innocent to murder and weapons charges related to the shooting death of Odin Lloyd June 17 in a secluded area of the North Attleboro Industrial Park, near Hernandez’s home.
Prosecutors allege Hernandez orchestrated the murder because Lloyd, who dated the sister of Hernandez’s girlfriend, spoke to individuals Hernandez had problems with a few nights earlier at a Boston nightclub.
Judge Richard Moses issued a real estate attachment for Hernandez's home at the request of Fall River lawyer Kevin Phelan, who represents Ursula Ward, Lloyd’s mother. Ward filed the lawsuit Monday in New Bedford Superior Court on behalf of her son's estate.
Hernandez’s lawyer Charles Rankin of Boston did not oppose the order because Moses allowed the request “without prejudice,” meaning Hernandez could challenge it at a later date.
Rankin, who represents Hernandez in the criminal case, told the judge he wanted time to contact a lawyer specializing in civil litigation to represent Hernandez in the lawsuit.
The Lloyd family requested a restraining order for a real estate attachment of up to $5 million. An attachment order is issued by a court to preserve assets to help pay the damages ordered in any future judgement. Hernandez could sell his home but any proceeds from the sale would be frozen while the lawsuit is pending.
The 5,647-square foot home at 22 Ronald C. Meyer Drive is currently valued at $1.25 million, according to town records and court documents.
The restraining order for the real estate attachment and the issue regarding Hernandez’s salary were the only matters in the lawsuit taken up during the hearing Thursday.
Lawyers for Hernandez and the Patriots have until April 15 to respond to the wrongful death lawsuit, which is not expected to be resolved until at least Nov. 30, 2016, according to the case docket.
No specific compensatory or punitive damages are specified in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Hernandez “maliciously, willfully, wantonly, recklessly or by gross negligence caused Odin Lloyd to suffer personal injuries that directly resulted in his death.”
After the hearing, Phelan declined to comment.
The lawyer for the Patriots, Andrew Phelan of the law firm of Bingham McCutchen LLP in Boston, who is not related to Kevin Phelan, also declined comment.