May 22, 2024

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What happened to the damages OJ Simpson owes to the victims' families?

What happened to the damages OJ Simpson owes to the victims' families?

More than 25 years ago, OJ Simpson was found liable in civil court for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her boyfriend, Ronald Goldman, and was ordered to pay more than $33 million to their families.

They have not recovered the damage yet.

While it remains unclear where things stand with the Brown-Simpson family, the Goldman family said their pursuit will not end despite Mr. Simpson's death on Wednesday. David Cook, an attorney for Fred Goldman, Ronald's father, said in an interview Saturday that he could not provide details of their plans to obtain the money, but that “judgment will be pursued as before.” In an earlier email, Mr. Cook said Mr. Simpson “died without atonement.” Mr. Goldman could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of Mrs. Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman at the 1995 criminal trial, but a civil jury in 1997 concluded that he “willfully and wrongfully” caused their deaths, and the unanimous decision included $25 million in punitive damages. .

Of the total amount, according to court documents filed in 2022, the Goldman family received about $132,000 from Mr. Simpson.

It was not clear whether that number reflected money generated by the auction of Mr. Simpson memorabilia, including the Heisman Trophy, which went toward reparations. Proceeds from Mr. Simpson's book, “If I Did It” — in which he described, in hypothetical terms, how the brutal stabbings of Ms. Brown-Simpson and Mr. Goldman could have happened — also went toward reparations.

It was also unknown Saturday how much damage the Brown-Simpson family had recovered. Mr. Cook declined to answer specific questions about the money the Goldman family received. But the total is still a fraction of what is owed.

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Because of 10% annual increases in interest on the unpaid portion, the current amount owed is now $114 million, Cook said.

On Friday, Mr. Simpson's will was submitted to the Clark County Court in Nevada. It was signed on January 25, and places Mr. Simpson's assets in a trust.

Malcolm Lavergne, Mr. Simpson's longtime lawyer who was appointed executor of his estate, said he had legal and accounting experts advising him on the estate, and that they would examine all the claims, only one of which involved the Goldman family. .

Mr. Lavergne said he believed Mr. Simpson had prior debts to the Internal Revenue Service of “a few hundred thousand dollars” but did not provide additional details.

He said he would make payments to Goldman's family and others if advisers concluded they were needed. But he added that if there was a way to legally handle the estate with the Goldman family getting nothing, that “would be the option” he would choose.

Mr. Lavergne also helps the family in other matters. Mr. Simpson will be cremated on Tuesday, he said, and funeral plans have not yet been decided. Mr. Lavergne also said he received a phone call from a researcher studying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head that has been found in the brains of hundreds of former NFL players. But Mr. Lavergne said the family would not donate Mr. Simpson's brain to study CTE.

Recovering all damages from Mr. Simpson has always been an arduous task for the Goldman family. After the civil trial, Mr Simpson insisted he had no way to pay the sum. There are limits to how much someone's wages can be garnished in such a judgment, said Christopher Melcher, a California lawyer who specializes in family law and is not involved in any legal matters involving Mr. Simpson.

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Mr. Simpson paid very little, he added, “because he denied having any sources of income or property from which to collect the judgment.”

In 2000, Mr. Simpson moved to Florida, where debtors could not seize his home under local law, and he continued to receive pensions from the NFL, the Screen Actors Guild and other sources, amounting to about $400,000 a year, which were also protected. From seizure.

In 2006, Fred Goldman told The Times that he was outraged by the idea that Mr. Simpson had avoided responsibility for the jury award. “How can it be said?” he asked, adding that he “did his best to avoid that judgment.”

But Mr. Melcher said the ruling itself, even without the plea, was not without effect.

“The sentence was actually a debtors’ prison,” he said. “It was going to haunt him for the rest of his life, to keep him from getting anything, or making anything, without fear that Fred Goldman would be there to collect that dollar.”

Claims related to a person's estate can take some time, Melcher said, pointing to the estate of Michael Jackson, who died in 2009, and whose estate has not yet been sealed.

The Goldman family will continue to wait. But according to a statement Mr. Goldman made after the civil trial, the ruling itself is what the family sought most.

“Money is not an issue. It never was,” he said. “It holds the man who killed my son and Nicole accountable.”