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Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Court Force Anthony to Sell Life Story?

In January Casey Anthony, the woman who was charged and then acquitted of killing her 2-year-old child, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. She owes some $500,000 in legal fees, along with other debts that bring her total liabilities to about $792,000. She claims $1,100 in assets.

There is one way that she could pay off some of those debts. She could sell the rights to her life story. But can the bankruptcy court make her do so?

That will be the question at an upcoming hearing of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa that has been scheduled for April 6. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee is seeking permission to sell the rights to Anthony's tragic life story to the highest bidder. Anthony's attorneys object, so the judge has agreed to hear arguments on the matter.

Immediately after her highly publicized acquittal in 2011, Anthony was reportedly offered as much as $1.5 million for an exclusive first interview on the subject. She turned that offer down and has testified that she hasn't received any subsequent offers for paid interviews or for the rights to her life story.

The bankruptcy trustee has already received one offer for the rights, however. The offer is for $10,000 from a private citizen who wants to buy the rights in order to prevent Anthony from profiting from the story later on.

The trustee does not think that will be the only offer, and is seeking the right to hold a bankruptcy auction in which to sell the exclusive worldwide rights in perpetuity to the commercialization of Anthony's life story" including the immense murder trial and her little girl's death.

Bankruptcy trustees are charged with collecting and maintaining bankruptcy debtors' eligible assets and then distributing them to creditors as ordered by the court. Is one's life story an "eligible asset"?

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Date set for argument on selling Casey Anthony's life story," Jeff Weiner, March 19, 2013

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