O.J. Never Paid His Wrongful Death Judgment, Because Florida
A jury acquitted O.J. Simpson of murder 27 years ago. The following year, he faced a civil trial for wrongful death, and this time, the jury found him guilty. They awarded the families of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown $35.5 million. O.J. never paid it.
Instead, he declared bankruptcy. He also moved to Florida, which in addition to being morally bankrupt (according to its own residents, who state this proudly) offers strong bankruptcy protections. The victims’ families have been unable to touch a lot of O.J.’s assets.
Those include his residence, which he listed for $1.3 million a few years ago. They also haven’t been able to touch his NFL pension, which is similarly protected under Florida law. O.J. receives an NFL pension of an estimated $20,000 a month, a sum that’s a bit more than the pensions of most people the law aims to protect. The NFL doesn’t have any provisions for cutting the pensions of accused murderers, as far as we know, and they definitely don’t have any provisions for cutting the pensions of those acquitted of murder.
Complicating matters, the sum O.J. owes has grown a lot in the last few decades. It compounds over time, faster than at normal interest rates. As of 2015, the amount had grown to $57 million, and you can expect that to be even higher now (it’s $96 million, say the people suing him). The Goldman family did get the rights to O.J.’s book If I Did It (whose publication the Brown family then tried to stop), but even so, most of the sum remains unpaid. O.J’s made other money in recent years, such as from the People v. O.J. Simpson TV series, but his own lawyers’ have a claim on that money, which trumped the Goldmans’.
In 2014, Ron Goldman’s mother actually put the judgment up for auction, which is something you can legally do apparently. For $1 million, you could even skip the auction and get the judgment outright—but it’d then be your responsibility to collect the sum you’re owed from O.J., and there was no guarantee you’d succeed. Her son Fred won the auction, and he hasn't had any success in collecting on it. Last year, in court documents, the Goldmans claimed O.J. had only paid them a total, over all these years, of $133,000.
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Top image: Gerald Johnson