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Table’s Turn: Zimmerman’s Lawsuit Against Al Sharpton, NBC, and the Martin Family Attorneys

Zimmerman’s Lawsuit Against Al Sharpton, NBC, and the Martin Family Attorneys
Jerri Cook

In a twist not even the best fiction writers could have seen coming, the Trayvon Martin case, instigated by a couple of sheister attorneys looking to make money from a tragedy, will reportedly end with George Zimmerman recovering legal damages from Al Sharpton, NBC, and the Trayvon Martin family attorneys, Daryl Parks and Benjamin Crump.

The first claim is likely to be intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). To be successful, Zimmerman will have to show that conduct of Al Sharpton and NBC was so extreme and outrageous that it transcended all bounds of decency; that they acted with either the purpose to cause Zimmerman extreme emotional distress or acted with reckless disregard for Zimmerman’s emotional well being, and that Al Sharpton and NBC caused him identifiable emotional damage. Here, Al Sharpton publically claimed that Trayvon Martin was murdered and that George Zimmerman should be arrested for the crime. The ensuing civil unrest and threats of racial violence caused Zimmerman to go into hiding. There is no doubt that crying racism and murder to a group of self-radicalized Black militants is beyond all bounds of decency. Any White peron accused of killing an unarmed Black child because of racism would be terrified of the mob’s reaction. If Zimmerman has been treated by a physician for any kind of emotional trauma caused by Sharpton linking him to a murder that never occured, Sharpton’s going to be held responsible.
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NBC will likely also be found liable to Zimmerman for IIED because a producuer who admittedly altered an audio recording to make it look like Zimmerman harbored racial prejudices against Blacks. The result made all of America believe that George Zimmerman was the most wretched racist on the planet. Again, this sort of behavior is wholly unacceptable in a society that values established due process and the search for the truth. This act, combined with Sharpton’s incessant race-baiting no doubt caused Zimmerman intense emotional pain.

The second against Al Sharpton and NBC claim is likely to be twofold- defamation and the invasion of privacy. The common law elements of defamation are 1) a false statement, 2) about or concerning the plaintiff, 3) communicated to a third person, and 4) damage to the plaintiff’s reputation. While it’s generally held that defamatory speech is slander and written communications are libel, where the speech is recorded and widely available, the proper claim is libel, which is held to be the more serious of the two as video recordings become permanent because they are ubiquitiously reproduced and shared across the Internet via social networking.Clearly, Al Sharpton repeatedly told people that Trayvon Martin was murdered by a racist and that George Zimmerman should be held responsible. As we are finding out, there was no racially motivated murder here. Sharpton’s statements on MSNBC and at the numerous rallies he appeared at were patently false, and they were clearly about George Zimmerman. The damage to George Zimmerman’s reputation is grave. He’s been branded a racist child murder by Sharpton. He had to quit his job and leave his community because of the damage done to his reputation.

While Sharpton’s employer, NBC, would normally not be liable for Sharpton’s intentional torts, they certainly could be held responsible for his behavior under a negligence theory. If NBC knew, or should’ve known, that Sharpton’s on-air race-baiting and vitriolic conjecture would lead to the destruction of George Zimmerman’s reputation, and did nothing to prevent Sharpton from harming Zimmerman, NBC will also be looking at a negligence action.

An invasion of privacy claim will stand against NBC because of the altering of the audio tape. The publication of the audio placing George Zimmerman in a false light that is offensive to a reasonuble perosn under the circumstances, and satisfies the main elements of a false light invasion of privacy claim. Because the producer has reportedly admitted to altering the audio to make the story seem like a hate crime, there will be little problem with establishing intent here. Because this is a story of public interest, Zimmerman will have to show that it was done with malice. What could be more malicious than deliberately portraying someone as a racist child killer without a shred of proof?

The third claim will be against the Martin family attorney whose professional malpractice brought a nation to the precipice of a race riot. It was attorney Benjamin Crump who contacted Al Sharpton. Crump called Sharpton after trying to intimidate Sheriff Lee into arresting Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. When Crump realized he wasn’t going to be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the city or county (his specialty by the way is suing state and local governments), Crump decided to invent a racial controversy in order to force the Sanford Police Department into a settlement. Benjamin Crump manufactured outrage over a hate crime that was itself manufactured. This is negligence of the worst sort. It’s willful.

As an attorney, Benjamin Crump has a duty to adhere to the principles of law. If you don’t have a merit-based case, the law holds you have no case. It is malpractice to invent knowingly invent one. The harm caused by Crump’s breach of duty is mind-numbing. There were death threats to Zimmerman and his family from militant Black racists. There were retalitory killings of White people. All of this on top of the injury to George Zimmerman. He has lost everything for no other reason than a greedy attorney wanted to shake down the police for money. It’s shameful. It’s this sort of behavior that gives legal professionals a horrible public image. Thanks a bunch Ben.

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Children of Illegal Immigrants Sue Florida Over Being Charged Out-of-State Tuition

Children of Illegal Immigrants Sue Florida Over State’s College Tuition Policy

MIAMI, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – Children of illegal immigrants living in Florida are suing the state for charging them out-of-state tuition.

Wendy Ruiz, a sophomore at Miami Dade College, is one of those behind the lawsuit.

She is paying $5,000 more than she technically has to, because her college insisted upon charging her out-of-state tuition when her parents were unable to produce legal immigration documents.

Ruiz was born in the United States, and has lived in Florida her entire life. As such, she is both an American and Florida citizen in the eyes of the law.

“It’s so unfair,” she told CBS Tampa. “I was born here. This makes no sense.”

Rather than keeping quiet, Ruiz chose to take action. She and five other college-age Floridians are now involved in a class-action lawsuit that seeks to overturn the rule.

Miriam Haskell of the Southern Poverty Law Center is working on the case.

“We believe strongly that young people … should be treated equally, and have a right to access education,
” Haskell stated to CBS Tampa. “(This policy) is deterring not just Wendy and the four other plaintiffs, but scores of others in Florida.”

Gerard Robinson, the Florida Commissioner of Education, and Frank T. Brogan, the Chancellor of the State University System, are listed as the defendants in this case.

When CBS Tampa called the Florida Department of Education, the press office said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Haskell said that the case has been filed in federal court.

This policy violates the federal constitution. This is not a state statute,” she said. “It violates the equal protection clause, which guarantees equal rights for all United States citizens. The constitution doesn’t make exceptions based on who the parents are.”

In the meantime, Ruiz is doing her best to continue with her education despite the thousands of dollars she must now pay in tuition costs.

“I have financial aid … (but) the rest I pay out of pocket,
” she said. “During the week I work at the school in administrative services, and on the weekends I tutor, I babysit … I’ve been a waiter, and had other jobs.”

To make time for her jobs, Ruiz said that she has assumed part-time student status, and is presently taking eight credits in the form of three courses.

Haskell noted that, though sometimes grueling, Ruiz is still fortunate.

“Some are able to make ends meet. Some try to do later education, or take a longer time with their education,” she said. “But hundreds are completely deterred from going at all. Three of the plaintiffs (in this case) are unable to attend at all.”

The hope is to resolve the issue and see this rule reversed before it reaches trial.

“We’ve reached out to them, and given them the opportunity to talk with us before moving forward,”
Haskell said. “(They have not done so) yet, but it hasn’t been too long.”

According to NPR, State Rep. Reggie Fullwood (D-15) has introduced legislation that would grant access to in-state tuition rates to qualifying citizens, regardless of the immigration status of his or her parents.

“You know I would be extremely happy if we didn’t have to push this legislation, if there was some policy fix or some administrative fix that could be done,”
Fullwood told NPR. “I would be one of the happiest people around.”

Ruiz is optimistic that the situation will resolve itself in a way that allows for more affordable opportunities for her and others in her situation. Until then, she’s not backing down.

“This is not stopping me from coming to school. I want to have a bright future ahead of me,” she said. “This (situation) is making me strong and more independent, and more willing to speak my voice.”

Added Ruiz, “It makes me more determined to what I want to become.”
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Not without my Penis

SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The dispute between a Kentucky man and a surgeon over the necessity of amputating the patient’s penis during surgery in 2008 is set to go to trial this week.

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The doctor maintains he found cancer in the man’s penis during surgery and that it had to be removed, according to the physician’s attorney. The patient claims the surgery was supposed to be a circumcision and he never authorized the amputation, nor was he given a chance to seek a second opinion.

Jury selection begins Thursday in the lawsuit brought by Phillip Seaton of Waddy and his wife, Deborah, against Dr. John Patterson of Louisville. Attorneys hope to start opening statements that afternoon.

The Seatons sued Patterson in Shelby County Circuit Court in 2008 after an operation that resulted in the amputation.

Seaton, now in his 60s, was having the procedure on Oct. 19, 2007, to better treat inflammation.

Neither Kevin George, the attorney for the Seatons, nor Clay Robinson, the attorney for Patterson, would comment on the case. George said Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman asked the lawyers to refrain from making public statements. Robinson did not respond to phone and email messages left at his office in recent weeks.

The lawsuit alleges Patterson removed Seaton’s penis without consulting either Phillip or Deborah Seaton.

George said during a pre-trial hearing on Aug. 2 that the case comes down to whether jurors believe the amputation “was a necessary part of the surgery.’

“This is really a fact-driven case,”
Shelby Circuit Judge Charles Hickman said during the pre-trial conference.

George has said that the doctor’s post-surgical notes show Patterson thought he detected cancer and removed the penis. But, George added, the situation was not an emergency.

“It didn’t have to happen that way,
” George said in 2008, shortly after the lawsuit was filed.

Robinson has previously said that Patterson, a Kentucky-based urologist, had permission to perform any medical procedure deemed necessary and that the doctor found cancer in the organ during the surgery. Robinson has said that Patterson “had no reasonable option” but to remove the cancer.

“Mr. Seaton’s problem was not the surgery, it was the cancer,”
Robinson said in 2008.

The trial had initially been set for January, but Hickman delayed the proceedings because of pre-trial publicity.

“I’m optimistic we can seat this jury,”
Robinson said during the pre-trial hearing.

The Seatons are seeking unspecified damages from Patterson for “loss of service, love and affection.”

The Seatons also sued Jewish Hospital, where the surgery took place. The hospital settled with the Seatons for an undisclosed amount.

The Seatons’ suit is similar to one in which an Indianapolis man was awarded more than $2.3 million in damages after he claimed his penis and left testicle were removed without his consent during surgery for an infection in 1997.

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