O.J. Simpson’s estate to fight $33.5 million payout from 1997 wrongful death ruling

It appears O.J. Simpson’s death will be the start of one more legal battle.

Malcolm LaVergne, Simpson’s longtime attorney and executor of the disgraced NFL star’s will, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he will fight to prevent the payout of a $33.5 million judgement from the wrongful death lawsuit by the families of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

LaVergne reportedly reserved specific hostility for the Goldman family:

“It’s my hope that the Goldmans get zero, nothing,” LaVergne said. “Them specifically. And I will do everything in my capacity as the executor or personal representative to try and ensure that they get nothing.”

LaVergne reportedly said the full value of Simpson’s estate had not yet been tallied.

Simpson’s family announced his death on Thursday after a months-long battle with prostate cancer. The reaction to the news was understandably mixed, the result of a legacy forever tainted by the murder trial that captivated the U.S. in 1995.

While Simpson was acquitted in the criminal trial, where the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, the Brown and Goldman families successfully had him found liable for wrongful death and battery in the case of Goldman and battery in the case of Brown. Simpson was ordered to pay the families a total of $33.5 million.

Collecting that payment became its own saga. An auction of Simpson’s belongings, including his Heisman Trophy, didn’t net nearly enough to pay off the judgement and the balance remained. Fred Goldman, Ron’s father, alleged in 2022 that Simpson’s debt had ballooned to $96 million due to interest.

Malcolm LaVergne (left) is the executor of O.J. Simpson’s will. (Photo by Jason Bean-Pool/Getty Images)

Pool via Getty Images

LaVergne was part of the effort to fight further payouts from the judgement while Simpson was alive, and reportedly claimed there was never a court order forcing Simpson to pay out the civil judgement. He added he was particularly resentful toward the Goldman family over what happened with Simpson’s “If I Did It” book, for which a bankruptcy court awarded the rights to the family to help pay the judgement.

The Goldman family took the manuscript and printed it as “If I Did It: Confessions of the Killer.”

Simpson’s will, reportedly filed this year, places all of his property into a trust created in January. Apparently, it was created with the intention to prevent further litigation, per the Review-Journal:

Among LaVergne’s responsibilities as personal representative is to pay for the cost of a “suitable monument” at Simpson’s grave, according to the will. It also said Simpson desired “that this Will be administered as set forth herein without litigation or dispute of any kind” and that any beneficiary, heir “or any other person” seeks to establish a claim on the will, “or attack, oppose or seek to set aside the administration of this Will, have this Will declared null, void or diminish, or to defeat any change any part of the provisions of this will,” they “shall receive, free of trust, one dollar ($1.00) and no more in lieu of any claimed interest in this will or its assets.”

Typically, when a person dies with unpaid debts, their creditors will be ahead in line of the beneficiaries of their will. But Simpson’s experience in the legal system was obviously far from typical.

Fred Goldman has previously said his lawsuit against Simpson wasn’t about money so much as holding the star responsible. He and Ron’s sister Kim released a statement Thursday reacting to Simpson’s death with mixed emotions:

“The news of Ron’s killer passing away is a mixed bag of complicated emotions and reminds us that the journey through grief is not linear. For three decades we tirelessly pursued justice for Ron and Nicole, and despite a civil judgment and his confession in If I Did It, the hope for true accountability has ended.

“We will continue to advocate for the rights of all victims and survivors, ensuring our voices are heard both within and beyond the courtroom. And despite his death, the mission continues; there’s always more to be done.

Thank you for keeping our family, and most importantly Ron, in your hearts for the last 30 years”

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