Shortly after her murder acquittal, Casey Anthony filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the Middle District of Florida in January of 2013. According to her bankruptcy schedules, Anthony’s total amount of debt was close to $800,000; most of which were attorney fees. She listed that she was unemployed, and claimed about $1,000 of total assets.
In a normal Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, a trustee is appointed to administer the bankruptcy estate. Pursuant to section 541 of the Bankruptcy Code, the bankruptcy estate consists of all legal and equitable interests of the debtor in property at the time of the bankruptcy filing. State law then allows a debtor to exempt, or keep, a certain amount of property from the bankruptcy estate. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy the Debtor would then have a choice to either surrender his or her non-exempt assets, or to buy them back from the bankruptcy estate. Since Casey Anthony had very few assets, most of her property would have been exempt. She would eventually receive her discharge of her debt, while paying very little back to the bankruptcy trustee.
The bankruptcy trustee in Anthony’s case, however, filed a motion in March seeking to sell the “exclusive worldwide rights” to Anthony’s story as an asset. If the motion was approved, the trustee would sell the rights to Anthony’s story to the highest bidder, and use the proceeds to pay her creditors. To avoid having to sell her life story away, Anthony made a deal with the Trustee to pay the Bankruptcy Estate $25,000 total. In reaching the agreement, the parties wrote they’d been unable to find case law addressing the trustee’s “novel” proposal to sell her story rights, and each side had made “plausible” arguments. Besides the above amount, since Anthony does not have any other significant assets, she will most likely not have to pay any additional money to the Trustee or her creditors. Her bankruptcy case number is 8:13-bk-00922.
Jonathan Bierfeld is an attorney with Martin Law Firm, P.L., whose practice focuses in Bankruptcy Law and Civil Litigation. He is admitted to practice law in the State of Florida and the Federal Court for the Middle District of Florida. He primarily practices in Lee County Florida in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, Florida.