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February 28, 2014

Casey Anthony Defamation Suit- Law Firm Stunt or Bona Fide Hunt?

by John Phillips

Casey Anthony Defamation Suit- Law Firm Stunt or Bona Fide Hunt?

(from 2012)

UnknownCasey Anthony is one of the least popular people in the United States –if not the world- right now.  She was acquitted of the murder of her daughter, Caylee, and many took the decision personally.  Websites call for Casey’s sterilization, for her never to have any earnings and a host of other unfortunate (and mostly illegal) things.  A woman recently recklessly drove a look-a-like off of the road.  It’s hard NOT to root against her.   Even in her own defense, she was shown as a pathological liar and deviant, an atrocious mother and a selfish, heartless person.

I was interviewed repeatedly regarding the trial and have made no bones that I was surprised, and very disappointed, with the jury’s decision.  However, I am not sure if civil suits are going to make anything better here.  There is no “wrongful death” case here because the father is suspected to have predeceased his daughter and was not involved in her life, so there is no next of kin to fight for Caylee and her deviant mother has no assets.  There is zero true real loss potential for Casey in such a suit.  In fact, she has a STRONG chance at winning again.  She also has one of the largest and wealthiest advertising law firms in the country, Mordan & Morgan, pushing her name to nightly news regularly when most of us would rather not publicize her any further.

I wanted to take a look at the pending law suits and determine if they are worthwhile, legally, or are further giving another person 15 more minutes of fame because of the unfortunate, tragic death of Caylee Anthony.  I will address the search firm’s suit next, as it is a little different.

Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez v. Casey Anthony
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The suit with the most publicity was filed by a lady named Zenaida Gonzalez. It is located here- http://myclerk.myorangeclerk.com/CaseDetail.aspx?CaseID=1450829. Defamation has the following five elements: (1) publication; (2) falsity; (3) actor must act negligently on a matter concerning a private person; (4) actual damages; and (5) statement must be defamatory.  I get the lawsuit, but the whole slanderous episode lasted VERY briefly, was NOT believed by police, was not specific to the Plaintiff who filed suit based on released evidence and had very limited damages.  Frankly, it seems like Zenaida is just seeking to capitalize on her unfortunate coincidence of name.

Facts-

On July 15, 2008, Casey Anthony reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office that her daughter Caylee had been missing for more than a month.  She claimed she had dropped her daughter off with her babysitter, Zenaida Gonzalez, at her apartment on South Conway Road on June 9.  On July 16, they all went to the Sawgrass Apartments.  The manager at the Sawgrass Apartments said that apartment No. 210 had been vacant since February.  At no point had Zenaida Gonzalez resided at that complex. Casey had also claimed that Zenaida had been a seasonal employee at Universal with her, but the company could find no record that at all….  Police tracked down a Zenaida Gonzals who had once looked at those apartments and questioned her.  That was it.  No further investigation was done.  No amber alert was issued.  They deemed it yet another lie.  At 4:30 p.m. on July 16, detectives arrested Casey Anthony for child neglect, filing false official statements, and obstructing a criminal investigation. Without a body, they were hesitant to charge Casey with murder.  The story changed shortly thereafter that it was a drowning.

Thereafter in 2008, the questioned Zenaida Gonzalez claimed her life was ruined when Casey Anthony went public with her story that her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, had been abducted by a nanny with her same name; not that she was necessarily accused of abducting Caylee.  That is a significant difference.  The Plaintiff, Zanny, was never arrested.  In fact, police did not even issue an amber alert.  No Zanny ever was, although many received hype because of the internet and people’s desire to help solve this case.  The Plaintiff Zanny has since been VOLUNTARILY interviewed countless times and her attorney, John Morgan, has made more appearances than many other attorneys involved whatsoever in this case. I do not like the case.  I think it is frivolous.  I think those that have used it has a harbor for justice are not looking at it the right way.  Call me crazy.

Unknown-1In order to prevail, Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez will have to prove that Anthony specifically identified her, essentially.  And that she was the victim of defamation, not because she was in a class of those defamed.  If Casey Anthony was talking about someone else or a fictional character, the case resolves in Casey Anthony’s favor.  Yes, Casey Anthony will likely WIN once again.  Her attorney will get to smile at the camera and talk about justice in her favor.

Did Casey come up with Zenaida Gonzales because it was a person or was it code?
Huh?  Some say that “Zenaida Gonzalez” was not a person at all.  There is evidence that it was a code or location nickname.  Casey was referring to the location of where the body was lain- the joinder of the properties with names that ring a bell- Zenaida Almodovar at 4709 Hopespring Drive and Fredesvind Gonzales at 4701 Hopespring Drive.  I had never heard this theory before writing this blog, but here it is…
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Neighbors also knew another Ms. Gonzales, very close to where the body was found and where the Anthony’s lived:

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Thus, there is a logical explanation, although it may give Casey too much credit.  However, she was clearly a brooding, pathological liar.  Am I setting myself up here for her civil suit from another attorney looking for attention?  Possibly.  Bring it.

One Tree Hill?  The Usual Suspects?

Computer records showed Casey did a Google search for “One Tree Hill’s” 100th episode”, right before Caylee disappeared.  That episode just happens to be about a nanny kidnapping a child.  Episode recap:

Nanny Carrie has gone even further into her spiral of delusion and crazy, and is now full-on referring to herself as Jamie’s mother. When Skills lets Jamie go to the bathroom by himself in the middle of the ceremony she sees her opportunity and lures him away. After the wedding abruptly ends everyone fruitlessly searches for Jamie by assuming Dan took him, while Nanny Carrie hides him away in a hotel room and prepares to dye his hair to match hers. Luckily for little Jamie, Dan decided to use this little opportunity to get back in his family’s good graces by following Nanny Carrie to the hotel and then rescuing Jamie and threatening Nanny Carrie to never come around Tree Hill again.

In the 1995 film, The Usual Suspects, actor Kevin Spacey’s character, Verbal Kint, under interrogation by police, spins an elaborate tale about a shadowy Turkish criminal mastermind and murderer named Keyser Soze, whom few have ever seen and whose very existence is doubted by many. At the end of the film, the investigators discover that Kint’s story was largely a highly-detailed fabrication, made up almost entirely, and seemingly on the spot, from cues he spotted around the office in which he had been questioned.

Evidence

Okay, okay… wait, but that’s just a conspiracy theory, right?  There’s gotta be more evidence, HUH?  Let’s compare Casey’s Zanny the Nanny with the Plaintiff.  First off, the Plaintiff’s name is actually hyphenated- Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez.  Zenaida never saw, much less met, Casey or Caylee (or any other) Anthony before she was contacted to determine what she knew about the case.  She was never arrested.  Casey and this Zenaida share no true circles, shared no mutual friends on or off of facebook or were ever knowingly in the same place.  Despite Casey’s claim otherwise, her ex-boyfriend, Jeff Hopkins, testified that he did not introduce her to Zenaida.  Zenaida never lived at the Sawgrass Apartments. Cindy Anthony, Casey’s mother, claims that the Plaintiff, Zenaida Gonzalez, was entirely the wrong one based on what she was told about the kidnapper and how she was described. Casey’s brother did as well.  Casey’s fictional Zanny was someone in her 20s who had 2 children (Zachary & Jeff). Testimony was that the fictional Zanny had 4 different addresses, none of which were the addresses the Plaintiff Zanny lived at. She was described as 5 feet 6 to 5 feet 7 and 120 pounds. This Zenaida is a 38-year-old mother of six with a much larger figure. Casey’s attorneys created an exhibit calling “Zanny the Nanny” a figment of Casey’s mind.  The fake Zanny also had a different car than the Plaintiff.

In fact, after depositions revealing that the Plaintiff, Zanny, was in no way the same as the one described, Zenaida’s attorney, Keith Mitnik said they took a big step Friday in clearing their client’s name.  Exactly.  Mitnik said, “We now have a family member say under oath that it ain’t this Zenaida Gonzalez and that’s a good day for her.”  It may have cleared the Plaintiff Zanny, but that also clears her civil case.  It wasn’t a very good day for Morgan & Morgan’s defamation case in my opinion.

How many women named Zenaida Gonzalez are there who have had to defend their names? Just this one? Or just this one who is willing to claim defamation and sue? In 2008, a news station found more than 400 women named Zenaida Gonzalez in Florida, many of whom experienced inconvenience of varying degrees. There were 8-12 in that geographic area of central Florida alone.  Investigators then told the station it would have taken them three months to contact all of the Florida women named Zenaida Gonzalez, but they stopped because Casey couldn’t give them a picture, a phone number or even the address where she dropped her daughter off with the babysitter she allegedly used for two and half years.  From early on, investigators were not convinced she even existed.

You can’t sue because of an unfortunate name, even when that name is generally defamed.  Period.  There is a lawyer in town named Jon Phillips.  I like him.  He is a nice guy, but if he or I does something wrong, we cannot sue each other.  If I curse out the name Adolf Hitler, Adolf’s around the world cannot file a case.  Clearly (and somewhat by Morgan & Morgan admission to me), they represent the WRONG lady.

John Morgan says he will accept nothing less than Casey Anthony’s appearance in person at his office.  First off, a party has the right to appear on neutral territory.  Secondly, how is he sure that his Zanny was THE Zanny out of over 400 others, out of a possible code name, out of all of the other inconsistencies?  I haven’t seen him refute any of this evidence.  He just talks of justice and Caylee.  We’d love that, but it has nothing to do with lining his or his client’s pockets because she was inconvenienced by her mother naming her unfortunately. There was once a young boy named Adolf Hitler, who attracted national attention when a supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with his name on it.  News stories frequently cover look-alikes and name-alikes who are inconvenienced by either.

Our take- This isn’t about justice or Caylee.  It is a civil suit.  Even if Morgan & Morgan loses the case, I assure you it was worth every cost it in good press. There facebook page has tripled and will keep getting attention.  News coverage is free advertisement.  And it is a good fight.   It is a popular position to go after Casey Anthony.  Maybe the 400 other Zanny’s need to sign up with me, except -well- suing for “defamation,” under these circumstances, though, seems contrary to the law and evidence.  However, at least one of those might fit the description.

Casey Anthony’s civil attorney called the case a “frivolous” attempt to “cash in” on the publicity surrounding her high-profile murder trial.  He said his client can’t be forced to sit for a deposition so soon after a “grueling” trial that left her “emotionally and mentally exhausted.” In addition, he said the deposition is scheduled on a day that he will be in trial. Regardless, Casey Anthony will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights if forced to sit for questioning in a defamation case two days after her upcoming release from jail.

Her attorneys also said in pleadings:
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Yet, he didn’t stop there-
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That excerpt should be stricken if it hasn’t been.  Lawyers shouldn’t stoop that low to use pleadings to attack each other.  This isn’t about the lawyers.  It isn’t about justice.  It’s about money and I am tired of seeing it praised as justice.

This case brings NO justice for Caylee or to Casey.  In fact, it gives Casey MORE limelight and attention and sets her up for another probable victory.

John Morgan personally texted me to tell me he will have the last laugh and is going to make millions off of this case… Not a chance.

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