Cash settlement for the Martin Family?

UPDATE!

Rene Stuzman of the Orlando-Sentinel is reporting today that,

That secret homeowners association settlement with Trayvon Martin’s family may not remain secret much longer.

The 12 page document was filed on April 4th, the same as the Writ by Defense so it may be part of the official record for the Appeals Court to consider if it accepts it.

After the filing the Clerk informed Crump that according to rules, it did not meet the criteria to remain sealed and that it would be released to the public in 10 days.  You can read her letter here:

Letter from Seminole County Clerk of Court

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-trayvon-hoa-settlement-not-confidential-20130408,0,5675871.story

for the rest of the story.

The Sun-Sentinel newspaper in Orlando reported on Friday, that details of a secret settlement between the Martin family and the HOA at Retreat at Twin Lakes had been 

reached. The purported settlement said to have been in excess of 1 million dollars, was reached several months ago.

The information came to light when Attorney Benjamin Crump filed some papers in court to add to the Zimmerman case. The details of the settlement and most of the details were redacted, so the details are murky. The documents were to be kept under seal but the Judge has given Crump 10 days to argue as to why, otherwise the all the documents will be released to the public.

There has been a lot of speculation as the reason for the filling since George Zimmerman was not a party to the settlement or named in the agreement. The settlement had a non-disclosure clause and this filling may breach the agreement, but it is believed that Crump wanted the settlement on the record to demonstrate that he was indeed the opposing counsel, and bolster his case for not having to submit to a deposition, after the Defense filed a Petition for Writ from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, to force Crump to testify under oath in a deposition.

Some legal analyst are seeing this filling as to late to affect the Writ, as it was not part of the record at the time the Judge had rendered her ruling baring Crump from testifying. If that is the case then Crump revealed information of the settlement needlessly, and revealed something that the family may have preferred to remain confidential.

“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 here under 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,” the settlement said.

The next few days will be interesting as we should hear word from the Appeals Court regarding the Writ and to see if public opinion of the Family will change after the revelation of the settlement.

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17 Comments

  1. I’m hopeful this week will be packed with news on the case. Here’s hoping.

    I’m not sure why I am not receiving emails when you post a new thread. With this post I hope to correct that.

    Thanks for your help today with the court’s links. Talk again soon. ♥

  2. Like a lot of things about this case, this “settlement” stinks to high heaven!

    Let’s think about this for a minute. How many insurance companies do you know that settle a case for something that happened before insurance was purchased? I would love to have an insurance company like that, but it kind of defeats the purpose of insurance.

    So who loses in this case? The owners or shareholders of the insurance company obviously. Something was going on behind the scenes here and it is not about MOM advising the insurance company. Obviously, the insurance company lawyers would contact MOM as part of its due diligence.

    So there is a shooting in your complex and you decide you better get insurance. How do you find an insurance company which will pay AFTER the fact, and lose money on purpose for its owners? Well, that is where the fun begins. Board members of the HOA might know what happened, but I would bet that someone (Crump perhaps?) advised the HOA to purchase insurance which he knew would pay. Something is Rotten in Denmark!

    As an aside, while the client of the insurance contract is the HOA, and could theoretically nullify the settlement, in practice the lawyer for the insurance company makes the decision to settle or not. Likely the HOA would go along because what do they have to lose? If there were no insurance settlement there could be a direct action against the HOA which, if successful, could essentially bankrupt the whole complex. Owners would leave en masse and the prices would plummet. So to avoid that, they found a shaky insurance company which would pay out, no questions asked.

    These are the real issues which should be investigated if one were so inclined. It is kind of ironic that even Freddy Leatherman is making much of the “fact” (without proof) that MOM advised and “approved” the settlement. Which side are we on here when we lend credence to that argument? And now that BDLR has used the ridiculous paypal argument against MOM in the states latest pleading, isn’t the state doing exactly of what it accuses the defense–using internet blogs to form the basis of its legal arguments? Wisely, MOM did not even bother to respond to those ridiculous allegations because they are not in issue. The issue in the pleading is whether the state should be sanctioned.

    • Stevie
      That Insurance company , the Travellers Group, said that it did not pay any money. The settlement seems to be between the HOA and it’s original insurer which is believed to be Liberty Mutual. The details of the settlement could become available as the Clerk in Seminole County, found that they did not meet the criteria for them to remain sealed.

      • True, they can object but the decision would be up the lawyers for Liberty Mutual which is the insurer that it is thought to have agreed to the settlement.

        Remember this settlement was done back in November, before the revelations about Dee Dee and sanctions were asked by the Defense. I wonder if the lawyers would have held one, now?

  3. “…..it is believed that Crump wanted the settlement on the record to demonstrate that he was indeed the opposing counsel, and bolster his case for not having to submit to a deposition”
    Now that he has settled what will be his excuse not to be deposed? Do you think he knew a settlement was in light and purposely did not explain why he using opposing counsel protection? Maybe that is why he wants this settlement sealed.

    Thanks bori for putting this post up. Very easy to read w/o hyperbole. Do you mind if I slither over here?

    • I have to update some of the information, but it appears the settlement was reached back in November of last year. The only reason we are finding out now is because Crump is disclosing it, now.

      Why not? Well, IMO he wants to establish on the record that he is an “opposing counsel” of sorts, to borrow the Judge’s expression, but more importantly, he is diverting attention from the probems with Witness 8, the request for Sanctions against the State and the Petition for a Writ from the court of Appeals.

      If you check the national news you will notice that none of the things I mentioned were picked up by the news. Yet, the news of the settlement was picked up by everyone. It is was great PR, since it feeds doubts, pollutes the jury pool, and diverts attention.

      I was talking to some legal eagles and they felt that the settlement details have very little chance of becoming public, as they are probably several non-disclosure edits in it. So Crump has nothing to worry about, but gets a great PR move.

  4. Hi bori. Thanks for responding.
    I was going under the premise that the settlement was just reached. Only because Dumpster did file in District court that he was opposing counsel and, he if lied he’d be in deep doo-doo. But I did not consider the non-disclosure, because I just assumed that all counsel and the judge got un-redacted copies of the settlement, which wouldn’t matter anyway. MOM wouldn’t want to depo on that, it can’t be submitted during trial, and Dumpster would invoke rights not to disclose. This area of law is not my cup of tea.
    I did expect that the details of the settlement would not become public, because all parties were in agreement. If going on the premise that the settlement occurred months ago I have no clue how he filed privilege to avoid a depo.
    I expected that the details would not become public because all parties were in agreement. But…..it is also publicly known 1. The parties to the settlement agreed to acknowledge any wrongdoing. 2. The settlement does not affect the criminal case.
    So. IDK. Still doesn’t make sense. When does it?

    • The whole filing thing does not make sense. The thing is things had gone as they should have we would not have known about for a least a week, when the documents would be unsealed. The clerk made a mistake (wink,wink) that allowed the first 5 pages of the settlement to be viewed by a reporter who (wink, wink) happened to be checking on any new filings on the case.

      This was done purposely to what end, not sure. I think he wanted to get some good PR after the fiasco the last week has been for the Prosecution. Other than that it does not make sense.

  5. I got you. But how to resolve the opposing counsel claim? The counsel and judges have to have an unredacted copy? Or does that remain sealed or if unsealed it will just remain in chambers? This after all a 2nd degree murder case.

    • The Judge determined that the information, MOM was asking for, was protected as Attorney work product, and that MOM had failed to meet the test, based on the Hickman case, to overcome that. In addition she felt that the information that MOM was seeking could be attained by other means. Much was made of the opposing counsel but she was really referring to what any attorney would have which is Attorney work product.

      MOM as I do feel she erred because Crump waived any privilege he was allowed by having a news crew present and by sharing the results to the media. The Judge never addressed the waiver issue. With the Hickman test, was the information relevant, and non-privileged, no other means of obtaining the information and that the information was crucial to the case, the Judge never allowed the Defense to present evidence to support their case, but then said that the Defense did not meet the test.

      The copy of the settlement that Crump submitted was already redacted, or at least part of the 5 pages that were seen were. The thing is submitting this to bolster the opposing counsel claim fails as was not part of the record when the Judge rendered her decision to deny the Reconsideration Motion, so unless he made a bad mistake by one) revealing confidential information of the a settlement and 2) not realizing that it did not affect the Writ filed by MOM, Crump wanted the settlement to be known.

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