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Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

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Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 07:34:37

Homeowners might be on hook in civil action in Trayvon Martin's death

The people who could end up paying the financial price for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin are, ultimately, the homeowners of the Retreat at Twin Lakes development in Sanford, experts say.

If their crime-watch program captain George Zimmerman gets charged with and convicted of killing Trayvon, the community's homeowner association and property-management company will likely be sued by the victim's family regarding the way the watch program was established and operated, said Donna Berger, a lawyer who specializes in homeowner-association law.

"They may wind up getting sued and getting hit with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and damages," said Berger, who works with the South Florida law firm Katzman, Garfinkel and Berger. "Who will pay is every member of the association, and they will have to make special assessments. ... It's a cautionary tale for other associations."
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-03-29/business/os-trayvon-martin-hoa-20120329_1_cyber-citizens-homeowner-crime-watch-members


Oh yikes, that's a mess. What if the settlement is a million dollars. That could mean a special assessment of $50,000 per family in the neighborhood.

I *hate* home owners associations, thank goodness I'm not in one. Just a bunch of busy bodies, bothering folks over who has a pickup parked in the driveway, unapproved privacy fence style, what color your mailbox is, etc. etc.. Now all the homeowners are liable for the actions of their "neighborhood watch captain." Lesson learned: if your HOA has a neighborhood watch, you better make sure the association has liability insurance for that.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby dsula » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 09:40:18

America, the nation of lawyers, where one is never at fault, but a culprit can easily be found and sued for all he has.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby dinopello » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 10:49:43

pstarr wrote:I will follow this thread with relish (though the republican majority will surely see to it that the responsible parties do not take responsibility.) The little Gated Community acted as a municipality and should be judged as one. They designated, titled, proscribed, trained (poorly), activated Zimmerman, their agent to act on their behalf. Zimmerman acted on their behalf. Poorly. Those people were to blame for this (not Zimmerman or the kid) and they should be held accountable.


Could be a landmark case, actually. Municipalities often site "sovereign immunity" to absolve themselves from any culpability when action or inaction on their part causes harm or damage to a private citizen.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 10:54:04

Pops wrote:Does anyone else find it ironic that the gated community where the "no retreat" law is called into question is called "The Retreat"?


Or better yet.. you could be claiming "No Retreat" while in The Retreat gated community.. while standing on Retreat View Circle:

Image

The reality of "gated" communities, at least in my neck of the woods, is that the gates are decorative -- there are no checkpoint guards. In some counties, electronic gates must now be kept open since -- ironically enough -- people inside have died because EMS wasn't updated with changed codes.

Unless homeowners are willing to pony up for a checkpoint rentacop, the walls and gates on a gated community are just a target if anything.

By the way.. lots of folk on this forum are pro-gun.. this whole thing is an example of why guns are dangerous. The overzealous "neighborhood watch" captain had some delusion he was a cop and chased and shot a young man, no justification, his gun got him in trouble he'll end up in prison now. I don't like how zealous some on the Right Wing are about their guns, it's like they're just itching to use them -- well, there are consequences.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 11:14:17

dinopello wrote:Could be a landmark case, actually. Municipalities often site "sovereign immunity" to absolve themselves from any culpability when action or inaction on their part causes harm or damage to a private citizen.


An HOA is a private corporation, not a municipality.

What we don't know here is whether the HOA sanctioned this guy to be "neighborhood watch." What's just as likely is he just lived there and appointed himself. I don't think that's been reported on yet.

What's unfortunate is all the homeowners who are just busy going to work and minding their own business and trying to ignore the stupid HOA busybodies -- now they may have to pay a special assessment for a settlement. The whole idea of a Homeowners Association is just another layer of liability (collective) that you don't need to take on.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Plantagenet » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 11:19:59

Sixstrings wrote:Homeowners might be on hook in civil action in Trayvon Martin's death


First Mr. Zimmerman will have to be convicted of some criminal activity in Mr. Trayvon's death.

Given the Florida "stand your ground" law allows people to defend themselves when they are attacked, and Mr. Zimmerman's story and the eyewitness corrorboration that Mr. Trayvon was attacking Mr. Zimmerman and the 911 recording of Mr. Zimmerman screaming for help as Mr. Trayvon beat him and police and medical evidence that Mr. Zimmerman was beaten by Mr. Trayvon, it may be difficult to convict him under state law.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby dinopello » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 11:22:24

Sixstrings wrote:The reality of "gated" communities, at least in my neck of the woods, is that the gates are decorative -- there are no checkpoint guards.


My friend's community in Boca had a guard and he was quite serious about not letting us in until my friend OK'd it as we were not on the approved guest list.

Sixstrings wrote:By the way.. lots of folk on this forum are pro-gun.. this whole thing is an example of why guns are dangerous. The overzealous "neighborhood watch" captain had some delusion he was a cop and chased and shot a young man, no justification, his gun got him in trouble he'll end up in prison now. I don't like how zealous some on the Right Wing are about their guns, it's like they're just itching to use them -- well, there are consequences.


It seems like the NRA should be crowing about how Trayvon would have been better off carrying a weapon to defend himself against this deranged animal, or something of that sort.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Plantagenet » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 11:43:38

dinopello wrote: Trayvon would have been better off carrying a weapon to defend himself against this deranged animal, or something of that sort.


Deranged animal? Was a feral cat or a rabid dog involved in this incident? What are you talking about?

???


Oh. You mean Mr. Zimmerman----the person Trayvon attacked.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:09:34

Plantagenet wrote:First Mr. Zimmerman will have to be convicted of some criminal activity in Mr. Trayvon's death.


Civil liability is a lower burden of proof.

Given the Florida "stand your ground" law allows people to defend themselves when they are attacked, and Mr. Zimmerman's story and the eyewitness corrorboration that Mr. Trayvon was attacking Mr. Zimmerman and the 911 recording of Mr. Zimmerman screaming for help as Mr. Trayvon beat him..


We don't have all the facts, and I'll agree he shouldn't be tried and convicted on Twitter.

However..

Cops are supposed to arrest based on just "probable cause" then a jury sorts it out. What happened in this case is the detective wanted to arrest him for manslaughter, then the state's attorney said no, citing "stand your ground."

As for the screaming on the 911 tape.. I heard that a couple times, it sounds like a kid to me.

Bottom line.. common sense, this doesn't sit right with folks because:

1. We can all just tell this is an overzealous self-appointed "Neighborhood Watch Captain" taking his job WAY too seriously.

2. You hear it on the 911 tape, "are you chasing him" then "yes," then "OK we don't need you to do that." -- it's common sense, you don't go chasing people. We have plenty of cops in suburban Florida they respond nice and quick you don't have to be Batman chasing down "suspicious looking" people. Let trained law enforcement do that job.

3. Ultimately, Plant, how would you respond if an armed man were chasing you? Hm? Would you "stand your ground," perhaps? Think of this like the Wild West, back when everyone was walking around packing ready for a shootout. Ok so you see "someone suspicious" walking down the street so you decide to chase him then wind up shooting him. Well for the most part, even in the Wild West they had judges and juries and it would go to trial if somebody shot someone and the jury would sort it out.

I agree with the "castle doctrine," by the way, assuming the person has broken into your home, and if it were me I wouldn't just pull the trigger unless they came at me. Where I definitely draw the line is at stepping outside your door with guns blazing. The contents of a woodshed are not worth a human life. Maybe if you're in the Alaskan bush that's different, but if you're a suburbanite in Florida then police response time is pretty quick -- it's just like the 911 operator said, "we don't need you to do that" (chasing him).

4. Even Jeb Bush, who signed this into law, has said "stand your ground was never meant to cover chasing someone."
Last edited by Sixstrings on Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:16:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Pops » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:13:58

Man the pendulum has swung so far to the right it's about to tip the cart over. Can you hear the shouts from the cheap seats if the kid had brought out a "9" and popped ole George instead of poking him in the nose?

But the kid would have been the one standing his ground, right? There is no question Zimmerman pursued and confronted him, against the advice of the 911 dispatcher to boot.

Shootouts are basically legal in florida. That is the line crossed between the "castle doctrine" and the "High Noon" law signed by Jeb.

I'm all for CCW and no retreat at home but encouraging shootouts in public seems kind of a step backwards to me.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby AgentR11 » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:43:09

Sixstrings wrote:The overzealous "neighborhood watch" captain had some delusion he was a cop and chased and shot a young man, no justification, his gun got him in trouble he'll end up in prison now. I don't like how zealous some on the Right Wing are about their guns, it's like they're just itching to use them -- well, there are consequences.


We don't know the facts, and should allow the process to prove the facts.

According to one account at least, he could have been dead without the gun. Sucks for all, but better to be alive and convicted, than beaten to death, even if he ends up unable to prove self-defense. Problem in this particular case is the lack of known evidence, which is why we have juries; eventually, a jury will get to hear everyone give their testimony, and decide who to believe and who not to believe. Just like the OJ thing, you or I might have an opinion; but its an opinion formed by the press, not by sworn testimony and physical evidence in a (usually) calm environment. In the end, I trust juries more than I trust the press, which isn't honestly saying much, but there it is.

As to lawsuits, HOA's generally have liability insurance for junk like this; the insurance companies will decide whether to settle and for how much, the HOA's rates may (or may not) go up some. Its basically lawyers making more work and more billable hours for each other.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby AgentR11 » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:46:45

Sixstrings wrote:Are gun owners that quick to shoot??? 8O Police don't shoot first, why do citizens have that right? Castle doctrine has to be the law since you can't put the victim of a break-in on trial, I know that, but just in practice -- everyone is honestly that quick to shoot? Like, a repairman?


No. People aren't that quick to shoot.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Plantagenet » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:50:25

Pops wrote:There is no question Zimmerman pursued and confronted him,....


Actually there is some question about who confronted who.

According to Zimmerman he was walking back to his vehicle when Trayvon confronted and assaulted him.

Trayvon reportedly confronted Zimmerman and asked him "are you looking for trouble." Zimmerman responded "no". Trayvon then said "well you found it" and assaulted him.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby AgentR11 » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 12:53:33

Sixstrings wrote:Cops are supposed to arrest based on just "probable cause" then a jury sorts it out. What happened in this case is the detective wanted to arrest him for manslaughter, then the state's attorney said no, citing "stand your ground."


Sometimes immediate arrest interferes with getting an actual conviction. If the guy is guilty, do you want a show followed by an acquittal, or do you want patience followed by a conviction? There's no question of who the guy is, or finding him to bring him in on charges if charges are made.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Sixstrings » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 13:05:49

AgentR11 wrote:Problem in this particular case is the lack of known evidence, which is why we have juries; eventually, a jury will get to hear everyone give their testimony, and decide who to believe and who not to believe.


That's all people are asking for, that he be arrested and it go to a jury.

If not for Al Sharpton publicizing this, nothing would have happened. The police never even notified the family even though the kid had a cell phone on him. Took them three days to bother figuring out who he was. They drug tested the deceased kid, but not the gunman.

The central problem here is the "stand your ground" law. The police didn't arrest because the DA decided the "stand your ground" burden was too high to overcome. Justifiable homicides are way up in Florida, something like a 186 since the law passed, most of the "stand your ground" defenses are bar fights. Just like the Wild West. Folks got guns.. they're drinking in the saloon.. they get in a fight.. this law covers them, all bar fights are messy but I don't see how guns in the mix helps matters.

Could you NRA types at least give us that much, how about no guns where alcohol is served?
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby AgentR11 » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 13:18:32

And if arresting him now to make you feel better causes him to be acquitted at trial, that helps how? Neither you, nor I know whether arrest is the correct choice.

As to NRA, guns, alcohol. How bout I one up you. No guns where alcohol is served, and that establishment MUST provide secure gun check facilities, and MUST be liable for any damage done to the weapon, and MUST provide armed security on premises at all times. Failure to meet the above requirements results in loss of liquor license and severe fine. Failure of armed security to protect all customers from harm shall result in felony prosecution of the owner and the security present.

:-D

Of course, most anti-gun folks don't want to make the bars safer, they just dislike guns and want to inconvenience CCW holders as much as possible.
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Outcast_Searcher » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 13:35:03

pstarr wrote: Zimmerman acted on their behalf. Poorly. Those people were to blame for this (not Zimmerman or the kid) and they should be held accountable.

Right. Zimmerman, the guy who pursued the victim, they guy who disregarded police instructions and (likely) training NOT to pursue, and the guy who shot the victim has NO responsibility here. Sure. :roll: What color is the sky in your world? :razz:

I'm not saying the gated community has no culpability, but you acting like the richies (you know, the kind of person you claim to be) should have ALL the blame regardless of circumstances is ridiculous. Why am I not surprised that a liberal would have this kind of attitude? You should go spout your theory of blame on MSNBC -- oh wait, they are constantly spouting theories about it already...
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Re: Homeowners could be sued in Trayvon Martin case

Unread postby Pops » Fri 30 Mar 2012, 14:00:39


Same article:
We also looked at crime rates for the five years before the "stand your ground" law started, and we found violent crime was declining during those years as well. Between 2000 and 2005, violent crime dropped 12 percent.


So was crime going down because they knew the law was gonna be passed? :-D

I really do believe CCW are a deterrent to some extent. But I also think think the High Noon laws encourage exactly this situation and I can't see any positive effect.
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