August 19, 2019

Unusual Asset Arises in Casey Anthony Bankruptcy Case

Casey Anthony buys back life story from trusteeBack in 2011, the nation was fixated on the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who was accused of killing her daughter.  Ms. Anthony was, of course, acquitted of murder but her problems did not end there.

Earlier this year, Ms. Anthony filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, claiming that she owed over $800,000 to around 80 creditors and that she has no income.  Among the creditors are her defense attorney – to whom she owes $500,000, and a defamation suit of an unknown amount filed by a former babysitter 1

No doubt Ms. Anthony’s bankruptcy case will continue for months and months as she is likely to face litigation in the form of challenges to dischargeability from creditors.  However, one issue has been resolved that is somewhat unusual for a bankruptcy case.

The Chapter 7 trustee in the Anthony case filed a notice of intent to sell Ms. Anthony’s life story to generate funds for the bankruptcy estate.  This meant that in the event that Ms. Anthony decided to write a tell-all book or contract with a movie studio to produce a movie, any proceeds would belong to the trustee.

Ms. Anthony has stated that she has no intention of writing a book or cooperating with a film maker.  However, she decided to make an offer to the trustee to “buy out” the bankruptcy estate’s interest in her life story.  According to news reports, she paid the trustee $25,000 to reclaim her life story.

Presumably a book or movie deal would net Ms. Anthony far more than $25,000 but the trustee concluded that the Anthony life story without the participation or cooperation of Ms. Anthony was not worth very much.

Assuming that Ms. Anthony obtains her discharge or reaches a settlement with objecting creditors, it would not be surprising if she changes her mind about selling her story and neither the trustee nor any creditors would have a claim on that money.

Obviously most people do not have a life story that would interest a book publisher or Hollywood. However, you can see from this case that trustees will negotiate on the sale of non-exempt assets.  Generally trustees are more interested in quick cash than in litigating property valuation so if you are trying to retain your rights to real estate, a motor vehicle, equipment, or other asset, it always makes sense to negotiate a deal with your trustee.

  1. A Chapter 7 debtor can and should include all creditors and potential creditors even if the exact amount of the debt is unknown or not yet determined.  If the Chapter 7 discharge goes through the pending claims will be extinguished.
About Jonathan

Jonathan Ginsberg represents honest, hardworking men and women in the Atlanta area who need personal bankruptcy protection. In practice for over 25 years, Jonathan teaches bankruptcy law and practice at legal continuing education seminars and he is a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in Atlanta.

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