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Judge Tosses George Zimmerman’s Lawsuit Against Trayvon Martin’s Parents, Others
George Zimmerman sued the parents of the 17-year-old he killed in 2012, alleging they defamed him and participated in a conspiracy to defraud him. The judge disagreed.
A Florida judge has dismissed a $100 million lawsuit filed by George Zimmerman against the parents of the teenager he fatally shot.
George Zimmerman filed a defamation and conspiracy lawsuit against several parties in 2019 — including the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, whose 2012 death sparked conversations about race and gun control in the United States. According to the Associated Press, Judge John Cooper of Tallahassee tossed the lawsuit, ruling that Zimmerman hadn’t proved “any fraudulent representation.”
Zimmerman claimed the defendants wrongfully portrayed him as a racist who profiled Trayvon Martin before fatally shooting him nearly 10 years ago, alleging the parties tried to “destroy his goodwill and reputation in [the] community,” according to the AP. Trayvon Martin was Black, while Zimmerman was the child of a Hispanic mother and Caucasian father.
“It’s just a relief, knowing that this time that the court system wasn’t going for the foolishness and decided not to put us through reliving the entire ordeal,” Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, told CBS Miami. “Because that’s what we’re going to have to go through, we’re going [to] have to relive the situation over again.”
During the high-profile 2013 trial, prosecutors argued that Trayvon, who was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles when Zimmerman shot him, was murdered by Zimmerman in cold blood. Zimmerman maintained that he shot the much smaller teenage boy in self-defense.
Zimmerman’s trial and subsequent acquittal sparked a national debate on racism and the stand-your-ground law, which allows citizens in some states to use deadly force if they reasonably believe they’re under threat of death or great bodily harm.
Zimmerman not only sued the victim’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, but also named attorney Ben Crump and his publisher, Harper Collins, in the suit after the release of Crump's 2019 book “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.”
Half-sisters Brittany Diamond Eugene and Rachel Jeantel were also named in the lawsuit, according to the AP. Zimmerman accused Jeantel of lying on the stand when she testified in 2013 about talking to Trayvon Martin before his death. Zimmerman claimed Jeantel covered for Eugene, who was supposedly unwilling to testify. The lawsuit alleged that Jeantel was “an imposter and fake witness,” as reported by ABC affiliate WPBF.
But Judge John Cooper found no evidence to support any of Zimmerman’s claims.
“There can be no claim for conspiracy to defraud if there is no adequately stated claim for fraud,” Cooper wrote in his ruling, according to the AP.
Tracy Martin commented on the audacity of Zimmerman’s lawsuit, claiming it added “insult to injury,” as reported by CBS Miami.
“It was like trying to pour salt into the [wound],” said Trayvon Martin’s father. “Here we are, ten years later, and you’ve already gotten away with the murder of our son, and now you come up with this baseless lawsuit.”
The 2019 lawsuit isn’t the only time Zimmerman has sued people for mentioning Trayvon Martin’s death. He sued then-presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren in 2020 for $265 million over a pair of tweets that never named him,
“Trayvon Martin would have been 25 today,” Buttigieg tweeted on Feb. 5, 2020. “How many 25th birthdays have been stolen from us by white supremacy, gun violence, prejudice, and fear?”
Warren echoed the sentiment that same day, saying, “We need to end gun violence and racism,” in a tweet she tagged to Trayvon Martin’s mother.
“I think anybody can file a lawsuit,” former civil rights lawyer Gloria J. Browne-Marshall told Oxygen.com in 2020. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful.”
The lawsuit against Buttigieg and Warren is still open.