The family of Trayvon Martin has settled a wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the homeowner’s association where neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old on the night of February 26, 2012. This lawsuit is separate from the one the family plans to file against Zimmerman, who is currently awaiting trial for second degree murder.
The case ignited a firestorm of media coverage and allegations of racism. Zimmerman claims he was acting in self-defense that evening at The Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated community where Martin was staying with his father, only a few short steps away from where he was shot.
Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and the back of his head when police arrived on the scene. After being treated for his personal injuries, he was taken to the Sanford Police Department, a suburb of Orlando, and detained for approximately five hours. He was released without charges.
As details and questions about the circumstances of the incident emerged, public unrest and speculations of a racist motivation on Zimmerman’s part grew, until finally a Special Prosecutor was appointed, and charged him with second degree murder on April 11, 2012. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty, and is currently free on a $1 million bond while awaiting his trial.
Todd Miner has tried similar cases against both entities and individuals. According to The Orlando Sentinel, the wrongful death award exceeds $1 million, but the exact amount Trayvon Martin’s family will receive was not disclosed. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against any group proven liable for such loss of life, in this case the homeowner’s association which hired George Zimmerman in the first place.
The fact that the suit was filed and has already been settled, well before the murder trial has taken place, is illustrative of the differences between civil and criminal courts. The threshold of guilt in a civil trial, such as a personal injury or wrongful death trial, is lower. What is known as a “preponderance of evidence” is adequate in most cases. In a criminal case guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which is a phrase with which most of us are quite familiar. A personal injury case can be settled either through monetary relief or equitable relief, wherein the plaintiff asks that the court order the defendant to change a behavior rather than pay a fine.
Todd Miner has more than 20 years of experience with personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, nursing home negligence and other types of cases which justify strong advocacy for a victim in civil court. Call Todd today for a free evaluation of your case!