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One civil suit settled in Trayvon Martin murder case

The infamous Florida case surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin has reached a small conclusion, with the boy's family settling a wrongful death suit that named the homeowners' association of the subdivision where the boy died as defendants. Martin was killed just feet away from his father's house in February 2012. Reports out of Orlando show that the family has agreed to accept a set amount of money from the community group.

The case garnered national media attention after area police departments wavered about their decision to charge the neighborhood watchman who reportedly gunned down the victim. The watchman, George Zimmerman, was charged with second degree murder. His trial is still pending. Zimmerman contends he shot the youngster only after he was attacked first, according to news reports.

It is not clear exactly how much money the Martin family sought in connection with the teen's death, though initial reports estimate that the boy's relatives could receive as much as $1 million from the HOA. Zimmerman was not included in this civil suit, however, which focused exclusively on the community where the boy's death occurred.

According to media reports, Martin's family is still planning to file a civil suit against Zimmerman in the near future.

Civil suits associated with criminal activities often give victims' families the ability to receive compensation even in the event that prosecutors fail to convict. The standard of proof in civil court is significantly less stringent, with defendants subject to a more liberal "preponderance of evidence" requirement. In other words, civil judgments are much easier to hand down than criminal sanctions.

Wrongful death claims in this situation could allow the boy's family to seek compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of consort. The latter claim is generally used to seek redress for the family's inability to interact with the decedent. Additional financial compensation could be used towards the boy's funeral expenses, medical costs and legal fees required to initiate and sustain the civil actions.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, "Trayvon Martin's family settles wrongful death suit," Jermaine Spradley, April 5, 2013

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