The parents of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin have settled a wrongful-death claim with the homeowners association of the Sanford gated community where their son was gunned down by neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012, reports the Chicago Tribune.
According to numerous reports, the settlement is believed to be more than $1,000,000, but the amount was redacted on public documents and Attorney Benjamin Crump would not confirm when asked.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, filed suit against the Retreat at Twin Lakes subdivision in August, 2012.
Under the heading “Neighborhood Watch,” the neighborhood’s newsletter’s recommended that residents first call police and then “please contact our Captain, George Zimmerman … so he can be aware and help address the issue with other residents.”
Their endorsement of Zimmerman, who claims to have been acting in that capacity when he profiled, stalked and ultimately killed the unarmed 17-year-old, left them vulnerable to legal action.
The community-association manager, Kent Taylor, did not return phone calls from the Orlando Sentinel about the settlement. Neither did its attorney, Thomas R. Slaten Jr.
Robert Taylor is founding partner of Taylor & Carls P.A., a law firm that represents homeowner associations but has no connection to the Retreat at Twin Lakes.
“When claims are filed, they’re filed against anybody who could possibly have any culpability,” he said. Trayvon’s parents must have concluded that Zimmerman’s homeowners association did, he said, thus the claim.
In the settlement, the association did not admit any wrongdoing or liability. Taylor said its decision to settle was most likely a business decision.
“It’s really nothing more than a risk-versus-reward analysis,” Taylor said.
The association’s insurer, Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, filed suit in federal court in August, asking a judge to clarify its liability in the case, but that suit was dropped in November.
“Travelers is not a party to the settlement,” the company said in a prepared statement. “The settlement would have been with other insurers of the homeowners association and/or the property managers.”
The policy had a $1 million limit, according to federal-court records, and went into effect March 30, 2012, a few weeks after Trayvon was shot. Trayvon’s mother filed a claim with the insurer after it went into effect, according to federal-court records.
During an interview in February, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, said Trayvon’s parents had tried to settle through mediation and the association or its insurer had offered $1 million, but Trayvon’s parents had rejected that amount.
O’Mara said the two parties then renewed talks and agreed to settle several months ago.
George Zimmerman still awaits trial for killing Trayvon. In the meantime, his brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., has used social media to discredit the teen — by calling him a thug and comparing him to an alleged baby-killer — and insist that his brother did nothing wrong.
While it’s a step forward that the HOA has been held accountable. Money does not equal justice — and this family deserves justice.