The family of Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots tight end who committed suicide in jail in April, has dropped its lawsuit against the National Football League, but left open the possibility of refiling it in a different court.
Last month, lawyers for Hernandez’s family sued the N.F.L. in federal court in Boston, arguing that the league and the Patriots did not do enough to protect him from the dangers of concussions. The case was filed the same day that researchers at Boston University said an autopsy showed that Hernandez had an advanced form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits.
In a filing Friday, lawyers for Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, and her mother, Shayanna Jenkins Hernandez, said they had dismissed their case against the N.F.L. “without prejudice,” which allows them to refile it.
A lawyer for the Hernandez family told The Associated Press that he intended to refile the case in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts next week, and that state court would be a better venue for his case because it allowed more claims to be filed there than in federal court.
Hernandez was serving a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a friend of his. After his death, his conviction was vacated because his appeals of the conviction had not been exhausted when he died.
Regardless of the venue, the case faces steep hurdles. For years, the N.F.L. has successfully fended off suits brought by former players using a number of legal strategies, including an argument that disputes between players and the league are governed by the collective bargaining agreement, not the courts, and that an arbitrator, not a judge, should settle them.
Former players would also have to prove the hits to the head that they received in the N.F.L. directly led to their troubles off the field, which is a high bar, especially for those, like Hernandez, who also played football in college and in childhood. The league might also argue that Hernandez knew there was a risk he could be injured playing in the N.F.L., particularly because he had played the game for more than a decade before he was drafted by the Patriots.