CareerBae: Zimmerman $100 M Defamation Lawsuit

The infamous George Zimmerman who was found not guilty under the “Stand Your Ground” law for killing the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin has now said his life is unbearable because he has been defamed by the parties in the case. Specifically, Trayvon Martin’s parents, Attorney Benjamin Crump and Florida state officials.

Zimmerman filed the complaint in Polk County where he lives. The 36-page lawsuit first takes aim at Crump’s recently published book, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.” The suit claims its publishing by HarperCollins perpetuates continued defamation of Zimmerman.

Then the complaint later goes on to name several former prosecutors, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state of Florida as defendants. As it relates to those claims, Zimmerman claims there was a conspiracy involving a fake witness that led to his arrest and prosecution.

In Florida you must prove the following for a successful claim for defamation:

  1. a false statement concerning another person or company;
  2. an unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party;
  3. negligence or intentional conduct on the part of the author of the statement; and.
  4. actual damages.

The common difficulty, however, is proving actual damages in support of a defamation claim. That is where defamation per se is a major factor which I predict Zimmerman will try to claim.

For Defamation Per Se:

  • Statement charges that a person has committed an infamous crime;
  • Statement charges a person with having an infectious disease (or mental illness);
  • Statement tends to subject one to hatred, distrust, ridicule, contempt or disgrace; or
  • Statement tends to injure one in his trade or profession.

Larry Klayman, Zimmerman’s attorney claims his client damages includes regularly faces death threats, gave up career aspirations, struggles to find work and suffers from PTSD in the fallout from the incident. In that vain, Zimmerman will mostly likely claim that based on the statements made in Attorney Crump book, any public statements by Government Officials and Trayvon Martin family all subjected him to hatred and disgust and also accused him of an infamous crime.

So what is the best defense for the parties involved against this controversial lawsuit? The TRUTH. Any written or oral statements by the parties if can be proven true even if they were damaging to Zimmerman is not defamatory.

Other defenses?

  • opinion
  • consent to the publication of the allegedly defamatory statement.
  • absolute privilege.
  • qualified privilege.

After essentially getting away with murder you would think he would live his life and move on from this tragic incident. But Zimmerman has in addition to this lawsuit has been arrested several times since his acquittal including violent acts against women. This appears to be another tactic to put himself back in the line light and paint himself as a victim while revictimizing the parents of someone who lost their teenage son. If he only walked away instead of approaching Trayvon who was unarmed we wouldn’t be where we are today. Zimmerman may very well be suffering from depression and anxiety and of course ridicule but I contend this is of his own making he should not be filing a lawsuit and opening old wounds.

What are your thoughts on the lawsuit? Do you think Zimmerman will prevail?




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