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George Zimmerman's parents sue Roseanne Barr over tweets

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Wed March 12, 2014
Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, along with George Zimmerman's now ex-wife Shellie, leave court on June 24, 2013.
Robert and Gladys Zimmerman, along with George Zimmerman's now ex-wife Shellie, leave court on June 24, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roseanne Barr's tweet forced Zimmermans "to live in seclusion," lawsuit says
  • Barr tweeted George Zimmerman's parents' home address, complaint contends
  • The comedic actress intended "to cause a lynch mob to descend" on their home, suit says
  • Barr tweeted "maybe go 2 his house myself," Zimmermans say

(CNN) -- George Zimmerman's parents are suing Roseanne Barr for tweeting their home address, which they say forced them to go into hiding for years.

Robert and Gladys Zimmerman have filed a lawsuit against Barr, accusing the comedian and actress of posting "an open and obvious call for vigilante justice," which she intended "to cause a lynch mob to descend" on their Lake Mary, Florida, home.

"It was foreseeable that the tweets would cause Robert and Gladys Zimmerman to have to flee their house in the middle of the night and never to be able to return, have to face a descent of media and others who would seek to do harm to Robert and Gladys Zimmerman and to their home, and have to live in seclusion to protect their personal and emotional well being," the civil complaint said.

The Zimmermans accuse Barr of "intentional infliction of emotional distress" and "invasion of privacy" with the message to her 110,000 Twitter followers on March 29, 2012.

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The lawsuit does not indicate exactly how much the couple is asking for in damages.

The tweet was published a month after their son killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a Florida subdivision, when national attention was focused on the incident and amid calls for Zimmerman's arrest. A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting of the unarmed teenager in a highly-publicized 2013 trial.

The tweet listed his parents' names, telephone number and home address, even though they were "in no way involved in any of the incidents occurring on February 26, 2012," the lawsuit said.

The complaint said Barr later tweeted: "At first I thought it was good to let ppl know that no one can hide anymore ... If Zimmerman isn't arrested I'll rt his address again- maybe go 2 his house myself."

Barr violated Twitter's rules banning tweets with unauthorized personal information, the lawsuit said.

"Roseanne Barr acted extremely and outrageously in making the tweets which were intended to cause severe emotional distress to Robert and Gladys Zimmerman and possible great physical harm, if not death," the lawsuit contends.

The Zimmermans "suffered emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, incurred additional living expenses due to the inability to live in their home and have suffered a loss in value of their home," the complaint said. "These losses are permanent and continuing in nature and Robert and Gladys Zimmerman will continue to suffer these losses in the future."

The suit demands a jury trial.

Barr and her representatives did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment.

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CNN's Alina Machado and Joan Yeam contributed to this report.

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