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How do plaintiffs collect damages from O.J. Simpson?

February 10, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Now that they’ve won, how do the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman collect from O.J. Simpson?

It won’t be easy. His lawyers say he was more than $850,000 in debt even before the jury verdicts awarding $33.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages for the killings of Goldman and Ms. Simpson.

His most valuable assets _ pension funds worth $4.1 million _ can’t be touched by the plaintiffs until the 49-year-old Simpson starts to draw upon them. And Simpson’s known assets that can be seized are worth a fraction of the verdict awards.

How attorneys for the Goldman and Brown families will try to collect depends on Simpson and his lawyers.

Simpson can appeal the verdicts. If he does, he must post a bond equal to 150 percent of the compensatory damage award of $8.5 million, or $12.75 million.

That bond serves as guarantee that assets and funds to pay the awards are in place. If Simpson declares bankruptcy, he is protected from posting the bond.

In a bankruptcy, a person’s assets are sold off and the money distributed to creditors; the Browns and the Goldmans would have to get in line behind secured creditors.

Once the bankruptcy is discharged, the person starts over financially. The catch for Simpson would be that the damage award doesn’t go away with the bankruptcy.

The families would be able to renew their judgments every 10 years, and hound Simpson to collect every dollar.

There are certain assets they cannot touch, under law, including trusts established for the welfare of his children.

Under California law, Simpson also is entitled to keep up to $75,000 in home equity, 75 percent of his income, a car valued at $1,900 and home furnishings worth up to $2,500.

Also untouchable are two pension funds Simpson says are worth $4.1 million. Once Simpson begins drawing on those accounts, up to 25 percent of those withdrawals can be seized by plaintiffs.

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