United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
IN RE CASEY MARIE ANTHONY, Debtor.
CASEY MARIE ANTHONY, Appellee. ROY KRONK, Appellant,
VIRGINIA M. HERNANDEZ COVINGTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
context of an adversary proceeding commenced in a Chapter 7
bankruptcy case, Appellant Roy Kronk appeals the Bankruptcy
Court's determination that Kronk's defamation claim
against the Debtor, Casey Anthony, was dischargeable in
Anthony's underlying bankruptcy proceedings, and its
resulting final judgment in favor of Anthony. Kronk,
represented by counsel, filed a brief in support of his
appeal on June 17, 2019. (Doc. # 14). Anthony, proceeding pro
se after her attorneys withdrew from representation, did not
file a brief. (Doc. ## 16, 18, 23). As discussed below, the
Court affirms the decision of the Bankruptcy Court.
Anthony's Criminal Trial and the Underlying
following facts are taken from the Bankruptcy Court's
“Undisputed Facts” section in the order on
appeal. Kronk does not dispute the veracity of these facts.
Caylee Marie was reported missing in July 2008. Her mother,
Casey Anthony, was arrested shortly thereafter and charged
with, among others, child neglect and obstruction. Casey
Anthony was released from police custody for a brief period
after her initial arrest, but then was formally indicted for
her daughter's murder and incarcerated again on October
14, 2008. She remained in custody until a jury acquitted her
of the capital murder charges in July 2011.
While out of jail in the late summer and early fall of 2008,
Casey Anthony met and interacted with an unpaid private
investigator named Dominic Casey. The circumstances and
events surrounding Mr. Casey's involvement in the
criminal case are ambiguous and confusing to say the least.
But it is clear that he had no contact with Casey Anthony
after October 14, 2008.
During the criminal proceedings, Casey Anthony was
represented by many attorneys including, but not limited to,
Jose Baez, Andrea Lyons, and Linda Kenney-Baden
(collectively, the “Attorneys”). Ms. Anthony
signed a retainer agreement with Jose Baez on July 17, 2008,
and a second retainer agreement with Mr. Baez on September 3,
2008. Ms. Kenny-Baden and Ms. Lyons joined the defense team
at Mr. Baez's invitation sometime after October 14, 2008.
In December 2008, Roy Kronk, a meter reader for Orange
County, led investigators to Caylee Marie's body in a
wooded area not far from Ms. Anthony's home.
As the criminal proceedings progressed, the case drew
national attention. The media attention was unrelenting and,
fair to say, was not favorable to Casey Anthony.
In November 2009, Mr. Baez and Ms. Lyons filed a motion
in limine in the criminal proceedings that
implicated Mr. Kronk in the crime. The motion in
limine states that the evidence to be presented at trial
of bad acts by Mr. Kronk related to statements from his son,
his ex-wives, and the daughter of his ex-girlfriend.
After filing the motion in limine, the Attorneys
began a media blitz of their own to discuss the allegations
in the motion in limine and to try to counter the
bad publicity that Casey Anthony was receiving in the press.
They appeared on television and made comments picked up by
the print media that raised suspicions about Mr. Kronk's
discovery of Caylee Marie's remains. The media blitz also
gave voice to the statements referenced in the motion in
limine made by Mr. Kronk's ex-wives and others, who
did not have good things to say about Mr. Kronk. According to
the National Enquirer, Jill Kerley, one of Mr. Kronk's
ex-wives, was “the most vicious in her accusations
against her husband.” Casey Anthony was acquitted of
the capital murder charges on July 5, 2011. However, she was
convicted of giving false information to the police about the
circumstances of Caylee Marie's disappearance.
A few months after the trial concluded, Mr. Kronk filed a
defamation action against Casey Anthony in the Ninth Judicial
Circuit Court for Orange County. But the lawsuit was not
served on Ms. Anthony until January 2013. Ms. Anthony
responded by filing the underlying chapter 7 bankruptcy
petition within days of being served with the state court
complaint. She received her bankruptcy discharge on December
(Doc. # 5-51 at 3-5).
Adversary Proceeding before the Bankruptcy
to Anthony receiving her discharge, Kronk instituted an
adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court. See
(Doc. # 5-4). In that proceeding, he sought an order that his
defamation claim be excluded from Anthony's bankruptcy
discharge because the claim resulted from willful and
malicious injury within the meaning of 11 U.S.C. §
523(a)(6). (Doc. # 5-6 at ¶¶ 23-34).
to Kronk's amended complaint in the adversary proceeding,
Anthony, through her attorneys “who acted as her
agents, ” published false and defamatory statements
about him during the investigation into Caylee's
disappearance and Anthony's subsequent criminal trial.
(Id. at ¶ 12). These statements were made
“out of court” on television shows, national
publications, and other media formats, and were widely
published. (Id.). To support his amended complaint,
Kronk pointed to the following specific statements:
• November 18, 2009: Attorney Baez made a statement in
an out-of-court interview that, “[W]e are not playing
around and we are going to get to the bottom of things. . . .
[I]t is very odd [about Kronk finding the skull].”
• November 20, 2009: Attorneys Baez and Lyon appeared on
NBC's Today Show and gave certain statements
meant to implicate Kronk in the murder, including that
“the state and the police should have investigated
[Kronk] as a suspect; there were so many red flags, it was a
sea of red”;
• November 20, 2009: Attorney Kenney-Baden appeared on
The Early Show, stating that there was just as much
evidence against Kronk as against Anthony and that “it
is easy to snatch a kid away”;
• November 20, 2009: Attorney Kenney-Baden appeared on
TruTV, making comments about “suspicious
circumstances” in “a grand coincidence of [Kronk]
finding the body”;
• December 7, 2009: Attorneys Baez, Lyon, and
Kenney-Baden made statements reported in “national
publications” implicating Kronk in the murder and
abusing his character, including statements that Kronk had a
prior criminal history, had a history of abusing women, and
had been involved with holding women against their will;
• December 23 or 24, 2009: Attorney Baez told WKMG
Channel 6 news that “the defense team is not backing
off . . . from their position that Kronk was the
killer” or from any statements made in the motion
• June 11, 2011: Attorney Lyon appeared on the
television program 20/20 calling Kronk's
behavior “very suspicious” and calling Kronk
“a morally bankrupt individual.”
(Id. at ¶ 12(a)-(g)).
answered the amended complaint, denying the material
allegations and raising numerous affirmative defenses. (Doc.
# 5-7). Anthony also moved for judgment on the pleadings on
the grounds that she did not make the statements in question.
(Doc. # 5-8). Kronk responded in opposition, attaching
discovery responses from Anthony and the affidavit of Dominic
Casey in support. (Doc. ## 5-9 through 5-12).
Casey Affidavit is key to this case, and provides in relevant
In August 2008, I was a detective hired to work with the
Defense team for the murder trial wherein Casey Anthony was
accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony.
During the publicity involved in the missing child case,
Casey Anthony became aware of the telephone calls made to
police by Roy Kronk in August of 2008 indicating he may have
located the remains of Caylee Anthony. She (Casey Anthony)
told me at that time, “Caylee is not coming home, they
need to get used to that.”
She (Casey Anthony) asked me in September 2008 if, “the
guy found anything?”
In October 2008, just prior to the remains being found, Casey
Anthony told me that when Caylee came up missing, the back
gate was left ajar. Since Roy Kronk was a meter reader for
the house, maybe “we could say Roy Kronk kidnapped
I told her then I would not do that because we both know he
had nothing to do with Caylee's disappearance, but she
was insistent that he (Roy Kronk) be implicated or blamed in
On December 11, 2008, it was confirmed that Roy Kronk had
discovered Caylee's remains.
During a meeting at the hotel that evening, Jose Baez came to
meet with George and Cindy Anthony. She asked him what was
found. Attorney Baez said, “let's go to the room to
talk, Roy Kronk is very, very suspicious.”
I have never met with, spoken with, corresponded with or in
any manner communicated with Roy Kronk at any time up to and
including the date of signing this Affidavit.
Based on my personal knowledge of the events and statements I
personally heard from Casey Anthony[, ] she authorized and
permitted her attorneys including, Jose Baez, to make false
statements about Roy Kronk to portray him as a murderer and
or kidnapper of Caylee Anthony.
(Doc. # 5-10). The Casey Affidavit is dated December 28,
2015. (Id. at 3).
Kronk had introduced evidence beyond the pleadings, the
Bankruptcy Court instructed the parties to frame the issues
on motions for summary judgment. (Doc. # 5-14).
Anthony's Summary Judgment Motion and
December 2017, Anthony moved for summary judgment. (Doc. #
5-46). In support of her motion, Anthony submitted an
affidavit and her own deposition, along with the exhibits
thereto. (Doc. ## 5-19 through 5-32; Doc. ## 5-41 through
affidavit, Anthony averred that:
I never authorized or directed my defense attorney, Jose
Baez, Esq., or other members on the defense team representing
me in the murder charges, including Linda Kenney Baden, Esq.
and Andrea Lyon, Esq. to say anything about the Plaintiff,
Prior to making this affidavit, I did not know and had never
communicated with the Plaintiff, Roy Kronk.
I was incarcerated for the murder charge from October 14,
2008 to July 5, 2011 when I was found not guilty of the
murder of my daughter Caylee Marie Anthony.
What Jose Baez, Esq., Linda Kenney Baden, Esq. and/or Andrea
Lyon, Esq. said to the public and the media while I was
incarcerated was unknown to me until I was served with this
lawsuit in 2013.
While incarcerated, I never asked my defense attorneys
including Jose Baez, Esq., Linda Kenney Baden, Esq. and
Andrea Lyon, Esq., or anyone else, to say or publish anything
about the Plaintiff, Roy Kronk.
(Doc. # 5-41).
deposition, Anthony stated that, while she was incarcerated
and awaiting trial, she did not have access to a computer,
newspapers, or other periodicals. (Doc. # 5-19 at 5-6).
Anthony admitted that, while she was incarcerated, she was
aware that she was getting an abundance of bad press and was
also aware that her lawyers were speaking to the press.
(Id. at 20-21). She knew that her attorneys were
“sometimes” speaking to the press, but most of
the time she found out about these statements after the fact.
(Id. at 23). She testified, however, that she
“never knew the content of what was said. All I knew is
that they may or may not have talked to this show or to this
paper.” (Id. at 24).
testified that she never knew, at any time, that her lawyers
were accusing Kronk of the murder. (Id.). She claims
that the first time she was made aware of this was when Kronk
filed the defamation suit. (Id. at 24-25). As for
the motion in limine filed by her attorneys that
implicated Kronk, Anthony testified that this strategy was
never discussed with her, she did not read the motion
beforehand, and could not even recall if she attended the
hearing on that motion. (Id. at 25; Doc. # 5-20 at
26-27). Anthony further testified that she had no idea that
her attorneys went on a “media blitz” following
the filing of that motion in limine. (Doc. # 5-20 at
29-30). Anthony denied thinking, at any time, that Kronk
killed her daughter, and admitted that accusing someone of
killing a child could hurt that person's reputation.
(Id. at 30).
of her deposition, counsel showed Anthony various media
reports involving her attorneys' statements allegedly
implicating Kronk in Caylee's murder. (Id. at
34, 39, 41, 48). Anthony stated that she had no knowledge of
any of these reports and did not authorize any of the
statements. (Id. at 35, 36, 40, 41-42, 48).
also filed the deposition of Dominic Casey, and the exhibits
thereto, in support of her summary judgment motion. (Doc. ##
5-35 through 5-40). During his deposition, Anthony's