By Rene Stutzman, Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge has bad news for George Zimmerman’s parents, who are suing comedienne Roseanne Barr, accusing her of doing damage by posting their address on Twitter.
Robert Zimmerman Sr. and his wife, Gladys Zimmerman, had offered to settle their suit for $750,000, records show.
But in an order signed Thursday, U.S. Magistrate David Baker says the money the Zimmermans stand to recover — if they recover any — is not even a fraction of that, not “anything close to $75,000.”
That’s the minimum amount required for a federal civil suit. As a consequence, Baker kicked the case back to state circuit court in Sanford, where the Zimmermans first filed it in March.
The Zimmermans accuse Barr of intentionally inflicting emotional distress and invading their privacy when she posted their address on Twitter on March 29, 2012. That was a month after their son, George, killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, in Sanford, Fla., but two weeks before he was arrested.
George Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder last year.
Barr contends she meant for the tweet to go to just one person and when she discovered it went to everyone following her, she took it down seconds later.
Her lawyers also contend that she shouldn’t have to pay damages because their address was easily available to anyone with access to a phone book or the Seminole County Property Appraiser’s website.
The Zimmermans allege they’ve suffered $600,000 worth of emotional distress. The tweet forced them to move out and go into hiding, they allege.
Baker focused on the Zimmermans’ alleged “hard expenses.” They reported $6,900 in hotel bills, $22,800 in rent, and $7,700 in additional living expenses. Those things, Baker wrote, total $37,400, far below the $75,000 federal court minimum. In state circuit court, where the suit goes next, the minimum claim is $15,000.
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