Author Topic: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?  (Read 6584 times)

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Offline FromBelow

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Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« on: July 27, 2012, 03:01:06 AM »
I read a post on another forum suggesting that since Trayvon was a minor his parents could be held responsible for the pain and suffering Trayvon inflicted on GZ. If GZ is granted SYG immunity or is acquitted could he sue Trayvon's parents for what their son did? Not very classy, but is it possible? What would the odds be of winning such a suit?

Offline annoyedbeyond

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 05:07:35 AM »
I have no idea at all...but it would almost be worth it just for the collective media s-storm.

Offline cboldt

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 05:32:04 AM »
I read a post on another forum suggesting that since Trayvon was a minor his parents could be held responsible for the pain and suffering Trayvon inflicted on GZ. If GZ is granted SYG immunity or is acquitted could he sue Trayvon's parents for what their son did? Not very classy, but is it possible? What would the odds be of winning such a suit?

If Zimmerman's account is true, he has a civil action for assault, and for battery.  He can sue, even if he loses his criminal trial, although losing the criminal trial makes it far less likely for him to prevail in a civil suit.

I think his chances of winning a civil suit are "okay" (if he is found immune or not guilty) although a jury might be hard pressed to assign liability payable by a family whose child was killed.  I'd put the odds at a 75% or better chance of winning.

Damages would be a hard fought part of the hypothetical trial.  Doctor bills and a token amount for pain would be easy to find, but the cost of a criminal defense, loss of ability to work, and personal security would be argued as unforeseeable consequential damages - or not assignable to Martin, rather being assigned to unsavory elements of the public and state government.

The general principle is that if Zimmerman was justified in his use of force, then Martin perpetrated a criminal act, and criminal acts of assault and battery are also torts under civil law.  Martin won't be criminally prosecuted, as he's dead, but his death does not extinguish the civil claim.

Zimmerman also has defamation claims against some of the press (e.g., Garvey Ashhurst for asserting that Zimmerman is "rightfully vilified")

Offline FromBelow

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 06:51:05 AM »
I think his chances of winning a civil suit are "okay" (if he is found immune or not guilty) although a jury might be hard pressed to assign liability payable by a family whose child was killed.  I'd put the odds at a 75% or better chance of winning.

I thought that civil suits were decided by a judge? There are sometimes juries involved? I thought that juries were only used in criminal cases. Maybe I've just watched too much Judge Judy.

Offline cboldt

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 06:59:46 AM »
I thought that civil suits were decided by a judge? There are sometimes juries involved? I thought that juries were only used in criminal cases. Maybe I've just watched too much Judge Judy.

See Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - Rule 38 and Florida Rules of Civil procedure - Rule 1.430.

Small claims court (Judge Judy) doesn't have a jury.

Offline DebFrmHell

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 11:17:50 AM »
I read a post on another forum suggesting that since Trayvon was a minor his parents could be held responsible for the pain and suffering Trayvon inflicted on GZ. If GZ is granted SYG immunity or is acquitted could he sue Trayvon's parents for what their son did? Not very classy, but is it possible? What would the odds be of winning such a suit?
Worse Idea Ever.

I am now curious about his getting arrested.  I still think that there were political influences in play the brought this arrest.  Does he have a case against the State or does the State get to hide behind the Ooopsie, My bad?

Of course all of this would depend on GZ being either cleared in a SYG hearing or acquitted in a trial...

Offline Lousy1

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 11:38:24 AM »
Worse Idea Ever.

I am now curious about his getting arrested.  I still think that there were political influences in play the brought this arrest.  Does he have a case against the State or does the State get to hide behind the Ooopsie, My bad?

Of course all of this would depend on GZ being either cleared in a SYG hearing or acquitted in a trial...

I wonder about potential witness tampering charges or libel / slander suits.  My guess is that given the Martin's loss the actions would need to be pretty flagrant to sway a jury.

Offline cardinal

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 01:47:41 PM »
Worse Idea Ever.
I agree with Deb.  Even if you were just asking from an academic pov.  Terrible idea not really worth any deliberation, in my opinion.

Offline nomatter_nevermind

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 02:14:33 PM »
I think his chances of winning a civil suit are "okay" (if he is found immune or not guilty) although a jury might be hard pressed to assign liability payable by a family whose child was killed. 

There's the rub. A jury might award only token damages, and the Martins aren't deep pockets.

Defamation suits against the Martins' lawyers, ABC or MSNBC seem like a better bet to me.

Offline DebFrmHell

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2012, 03:44:32 AM »
There's the rub. A jury might award only token damages, and the Martins aren't deep pockets.

Defamation suits against the Martins' lawyers, ABC or MSNBC seem like a better bet to me.

If the DOJ comes up with some malfeasance regarding leaks in the case, do you think he could go after them?  Obstruction of justice? 

Of course the trial is well over a year away...and I think a judge will "kick-the-can" to a jury and not rule in the event of a SYG hearing.

Offline whitecap333

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2012, 03:40:40 PM »
I suspect any post trial unpleasantness will probably take the Sec. 1983 route, bringing in some of the media players as "pendant" defendants for defamation.  The pinstriped barracudas will go for the "deep pockets."

Offline FromBelow

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2012, 04:21:01 PM »
I am now curious about his getting arrested.  I still think that there were political influences in play the brought this arrest.  Does he have a case against the State or does the State get to hide behind the Ooopsie, My bad?

I forgot about this thread. I think the State has prosecutorial immunity. I'm not quite sure what that means exactly. If there was solid evidence they charged knowing there wasn't a case then maybe "immunity" wouldn't matter?

Offline whitecap333

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2012, 05:44:58 PM »
It's my lay understanding that prosecutorial immunity does not generally extend to investigative functions, and this may create a chink in the armor.  Then there is the murky issue of whether the governmental body for which the prosecutor is acting can share in that immunity.  The law is something of a patchwork quilt with regard to whether a prosecutor or state's attorney is deemed to be an official, or "policymaker," for the county or for the state.  You're looking at byzantine complexity here.  The 11th Circuit has approved the theory of malicious prosecution as a "constitutional tort," violative of 4th Amendment rights, and I would expect this to be exploited in an effort to cast a wide net for everyone who had a hand in setting the prosecution in motion.  I would expect external political pressures, "popular clamor," and the "iffy" probable cause determination to receive close scrutiny here.  But don't put any of this in the bank.   

Offline Jujube

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2012, 03:35:27 PM »
GZ would have a hard time trying to sue for libel/slander/defamation after this.  He's what is known as an "involuntary public figure."

http://www.expertlaw.com/library/personal_injury/defamation.html

For Zimmerman to prove his case, he would have to prove that any statement was made with "actual malice."   

« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 03:41:13 PM by Jujube »

Offline RedSledgehammer

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Re: Could GZ have a civil case against the Martins?
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2012, 06:27:37 PM »
I wonder more if GZ could sue Team Crump. They're the ones who blew this thing up to begin with.

 

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