The family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin have settled a wrongful death claim against the homeowners association in Sanford, Fla., where Martin was killed, for an amount believed to be in excess of $1 million, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel.
In the case paperwork that was made available for public review, the amount of the settlement was blacked out.
But in February, Mark O’Mara, the attorney for accused killer George Zimmerman, said that Martin’s parents rejected the $1 million settlement offered by the association or its insurer during mediation. He said the two sides then renewed talks and agreed on an amount several months ago.
Asked during an interview whether the amount was more than $1 million, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump said, “I have no comment on that subject … I know you did not get that from me.”
Martin was shot to death by Neighborhood Watch volunteer Zimmerman at the Retreat at Twin Lakes townhomes in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman was acting as head of the Neighborhood Watch.
He told police he was was going to follow Martin because he was suspicious, then he disobeyed the dispatcher’s admonition to stay in his vehicle. After he chased Martin through the subdivision, Zimmerman said the teen attacked him and he fired in self-defense, killing him.
Robert Taylor, founding partner of Taylor & Carls P.A., a law firm that represents homeowner associations but has no connection to the Retreat at Twin Lakes, told the Orlando Sentinel that the settlement did not mean the association admitted any wrongdoing or liability. Taylor said the decision to settle was most likely a business decision.
“It’s really nothing more than a risk-versus-reward analysis,” Taylor said.
“When claims are filed, they’re filed against anybody who could possibly have any culpability,” he said.
He said Martin’s parents must have concluded that Zimmerman’s homeowners association had culpability.
The association’s insurer, Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, issued a statement saying it wasn’t party to the settlement.
“The settlement would have been with other insurers of the homeowners association and/or the property managers,” the statement said.
“It is understood and agreed that the payment made herein is not to be construed as an admission of any liability by or on behalf of the releasing parties; but instead the monies being paid hereunder is consideration for avoiding litigation, the uncertainties stemming from litigation as well as to protect and secure the good name and good will of the released parties,” said the language in the settlement.
Under the terms of the settlement, Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and his estate agreed to set aside their wrongful-death claim and claims for pain and suffering, loss of earnings and expenses.
Crump has said he will be filing a wrongful death suit later against Zimmerman. The settlement stated that Zimmerman was not part of this deal.