News

Judge to pick court in Spike Lee’s wrong Zimmerman address tweet

Judge to pick court in Spike Lee’s wrong Zimmerman address tweet

WRONG ADDRESS: Filmmaker Spike Lee claps during a community memorial service at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama Sept. 15. He is accused of tweeting the wrong address while discussing the George Zimmerman case on the microblogging site. Photo: Reuters/Marvin Gentry

By Elizabeth Dilts

(Reuters) – A judge will decide this week which court will hear a lawsuit against filmmaker Spike Lee over a tweet that misidentified an elderly couple’s address in Florida as the home of George Zimmerman.

Less than a month before the tweet was posted, Zimmerman, a white, Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager walking in his Sanford, Florida, housing complex.

Elaine McClain, 72, filed the lawsuit in Florida state court this fall, claiming Oscar-nominated director Lee encouraged “a dangerous mob mentality” when he tweeted her address to 240,000 followers.

On March 23, 2012, Lee tweeted, “George Zimmerman…” followed by the address of McClain and her husband. A lawyer for McClain said the mother of seven, who is also a great grandmother, lives about 15 miles away from Zimmerman.

On July 13 Zimmerman was acquitted of the shooting that sparked international outrage amid critics’ claims it was racially motivated.

Lee moved for the case be tried in federal district court in Orlando on the basis that the damages sought meet the minimum to be tried in a federal court, but a magistrate judge recommended last week the case be kept in state court.

It is up to U.S. District Court Judge John Antoon in Orlando to decide this week where the legal battle will take place.

Neither Lee’s attorney nor spokesman could immediately be reached for comment.

After Lee posted his initial tweet, McClain said in the lawsuit, her address was retweeted by Lee’s followers with menacing messages like, “Let the PURGE BEGIN,” and “LETS THROW THE BRO A SURPRISE PARTY! *LOADS GUN*”.

The McClains accepted a settlement on March 29, in which Lee apologized and paid Elaine McClain and her husband $10,000, court documents said.

But the McClains said that is not enough. The couple continues to receive death threats, was forced to stay at a hotel during Zimmerman’s trial, and has been unable to sell the house, according to their lawsuit.

Julia Young, a Florida plaintiff’s lawyer representing the McClains, said the terms of the settlement do not prevent them from taking legal action.

The couple is seeking unspecified damages and attorneys’ fees.

Recent Headlines

20 hours ago in Music

This week’s top R&B tracks

lalahhathaway

LISTEN: This week's top R&B tracks, according to the latest Billboard chart.

2 days ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Mother’s Day,’ Key & Peele comedy ‘Keanu’ hit theaters

22-overlay-9

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

2 days ago in Entertainment

WHAT’S ON: New on Netflix, Amazon & Hulu this May

netflixAP

It's going to be a great weekend for some binge-watching.

2 days ago in Entertainment

Alicia Vikander to play Lara Croft in ‘Tomb Raider’ reboot

vikanderREUTERS

The Swedish Oscar winner follows in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie to play the famed adventurer.

2 days ago in Entertainment

‘Angry Birds,’ apps to go hand-in-hand at the movies

21-overlay-15

Creators of the upcoming "The Angry Birds Movie" movie will ask audiences to whip out their phones during the end credits and point them at the screen.