Surprising Legal Results May Not Be Over
Strange facts make for strange legal results. The nation watched, riveted, the trial of Casey Anthony for the death of her daughter, Caylee Anthony. Not proven, said the jury. End of lawsuits and strange results? Not so fast.
Suppose Caylee Anthony did drown in the grandparents’ swimming pool, as suggested by defense counsel. Is there not a wrongful death claim based on negligence that could be brought against the grandparents in order to reach their homeowners insurance (assuming they have such insurance)? Absolutely! Many homeowners insurance policies include swimming pools claims.
Under Florida law an estate would have to be opened in probate court and a personal representative (executor) appointed, who probably could not be the grandparent homeowners because they are the potential defendants. With Caylee’s father unknown or at least not around, the logical personal representative would be – you guessed it – good old Mom, Casey Anthony. As personal representative she would bring a claim against the grandparents, who would put their homeowners insurer on notice. This claim would be on behalf of Caylee’s estate and also her “survivors” under the Wrongful Death Statute.
And who are the survivors under the Statute? Hint: in this case they are the same as the heirs under probate law. You guessed it again – Caylee’s parents! Casey and whoever fathered the child.
So who is Caylee Anthony’s father? Is he alive, dead, or in hiding? Whoever he is, DNA tests can prove paternity to nearly 100% accuracy, so that might slow down some of the men in Casey Anthony’s life from coming forward with false claims. But whoever he is and wherever he is, if he is alive, he and Casey Anthony are poor Caylee’s heirs and survivors and stand to benefit from any insurance proceeds available.
What would the talking heads on cable TV think about that?