Judge Tosses George Zimmerman’s NBC Lawsuit

A Sanford, Fla., circuit judge has ruled that the media company owes Zimmerman nothing in response to the former neighborhood watchman’s claim that it defamed him and portrayed him as a racist.  

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George Zimmerman, the acquitted shooter in the death of Trayvon Martin, in court on charges stemming from a fight with his girlfriend Nov. 19, 2013, in Sanford, Fla.

Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman has no case for libel against NBC Universal, a Sanford, Fla., circuit judge ruled on Monday, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

The ruling effectively puts an end to the lawsuit filed two years ago, in which Zimmerman accused the media company of portraying him as a racist and defaming his name in broadcasts after he killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman’s last hope for continuing the case is if an appeals court reverses the order, the Sentinel notes.

Back in 2012, Zimmerman filed a suit against NBC claiming that the audio excerpt that the network aired from his 911 call made it sound as if he had racially profiled the ill-fated 17-year-old. He also accused the company of defaming him by wrongly reporting that he had used a racial slur during his 911 call.

In the immediate backlash, NBC fired two staff members who were responsible for the audio edits and publicly apologized, the Sentinel notes. However, the organization did argue that Zimmerman, who had become a public figure through the highly contested and racially charged trial, could not prove “actual malice.”

In the early-morning ruling, Seminole County Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson acknowledged that point, the Sentinel reports. “There exists absolutely no clear and convincing evidence that defendants knew that the information published was false at the time it was published, or recklessly disregarded the truth or falsity of those statements  ... ,” she wrote in her opinion, according to the news site.

Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.

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