A Florida judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit brought by George Zimmerman against the parents of Trayvon Martin, the Black teenager he shot and killed a decade ago, for failure to show “any fraudulent representation.”
Judge John Cooper dismissed all counts against Sabrina Fulton and Tracy Martin in a court in Tallahassee, Florida. The order was written and filed more than two weeks ago according to reports. Judge Cooper stated that Zimmerman failed to display “any fraudulent representation” and that further arguments in the case would therefore be futile. “There can be no claim for conspiracy to defraud if there is no adequately stated claim for fraud,” he wrote in the order. The other defendants in the lawsuit seeking $100 million in damages included attorney Benjamin Crump, HarperCollins Publishers (who had published a book written by Martin’s parents about the case of their son’s murder and the 2013 trial), Brittany Diamond Eugene, and Rachel Jeantel.
Zimmerman brought the lawsuit against Martin’s parents and the others back in 2019. The initial claim was that Martin’s parents along with Crump were engaged in a conspiracy that tried to “destroy his goodwill and reputation in the community” by smearing him as a racist who profiled the teen. The filing also contended that Brittany Diamond Eugene was unwilling to testify that she talked to Trayvon before he was killed, so her half-sister Rachel Jeantel pretended that she was the one who talked to the 17-year-old before he shot on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman, who was a neighborhood watch volunteer, went on trial for the murder in 2013 that sparked international interest and modern-day protest movements over the disregard held for Black lives in America with a focus on Florida’s controversial ‘stand your ground self-defense law that allowed individuals to use deadly force if they felt threatened. Jeantel testified in the trial, in which Zimmerman would ultimately be acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The lawsuit was first filed in Polk County, but the case was moved to the state capital of Tallahassee to accommodate all of the defendants who were named in the lawsuit. The dismissal marks another low point for Zimmerman, who also saw his defamation lawsuits against Senator Elizabeth Warren and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in 2020 for making posts on Twitter regarding Trayvon Martin that he claimed defamed him. A federal court tossed both of those suits out soon afterward, granting motions filed by Warren and Buttigieg.