Wites & Kapetan Pursues Complaint Pro Bono for Texas Equusearch Against Casey Anthony

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Although Casey Anthony was aware of the time and expense being expended to search for Caylee, Casey Anthony never informed Mr. Miller or anyone from Texas Equusearch that she knew what had happened to Caylee. After Caylee’s remains were discovered, Casey was arrested and charged with several crimes arising out of Caylee’s homicide. Wites & Kapetan reviewed the case, and filed the complaint on behalf of Texas Equusearch pro bono.

Wites & Kapetan reviewed the case, and filed the complaint on behalf of Texas Equusearch pro bono.

When Casey Anthony, and her parents George and Cindy Anthony, asked Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch in August 2008 to assist in the search for Casey’s daughter, Caylee, Texas Equusearch agreed and launched a massive search. When Texas Equusearch learned, along with the rest of the world, that Casey Anthony knew all the while that Caylee had died 2 months earlier, Texas Equusearch sued Casey Anthony.

According to Texas Equusearch’s amended complaint(2011-CA-8475 (39)), filed in Orange County Circuit Court, Texas Equusearch (which is referred to in the lawsuit as TES) is a non-profit corporation formed in August, 2000, to provide volunteer horse mounted search and recovery for lost and missing persons. TES does not charge for its services.

TES is one of only a handful of specialized search and rescue teams that assists law enforcement with searches of missing people. TES relies solely on charitable donations to fund its operations. In addition, it could not operate without the thousands of hours of time donated by its volunteers across the country and abroad. Because of funding and manpower constraints, TES cannot accept every request that it receives to become involved in the search and recovery of individuals.

The complaint, filed by Marc A. Wites of Wites & Kapetan, P.A., alleges that in July 2008 Ms. Anthony informed her parents, George and Cindy Anthony, that her daughter Caylee had been “missing” for 31 days. Ms. Anthony originally told her parents and local law enforcement that Caylee had been abducted by her nanny. When those statements proved to be false, Ms. Anthony insisted that she had no idea where Caylee was, or what had happened to her. At the time of her disappearance Caylee was two years old.    

The complaint further alleges that in late August, 2008, Cindy Anthony called TES and spoke with Tim Miller. According to Tim Miller, Texas Equusearch’s founder, Cindy Anthony implored him to have TES assist in the search for her grand-daughter, Caylee. Cindy Anthony, based on her discussions with Defendant, told Mr. Miller that Caylee was still alive.

Based on Cindy Anthony’s request, Mr. Miller travelled to Orlando, Florida and met with Ms. Anthony, her parents, Cindy and George Anthony, and Defendant’s attorney, José Baez to determine whether or not TES could help with the search for Caylee, and whether it should dedicate its limited resources to the case. Texas Equusearch contends in the complaint that Cindy and George Anthony told Mr. Miller in Ms. Anthony’s presence that Caylee was still alive. According to Texas Equusearch’s Tim Miller, Ms. Anthony did not correct, question or otherwise comment on the representations made by her parents that Caylee was alive.

According to the complaint, Mr. Miller believed the representations of the Anthony family at meetings in which Ms. Anthony participated and who, as the child’s mother, was presumed to have the most accurate information regarding what had happened to her daughter. At this time, the Anthony family insisted that they believed that Caylee had been abducted and that she was alive. Ms. Anthony never corrected or otherwise disagreed with any statements made by her parents that Caylee was still alive.

A continued review of the complaint shows that in reliance on these representations, Mr. Miller agreed that TES would assist in the search for Caylee. Texas Equusearch organized and managed two of the largest searches it had ever conducted, one in early September, 2008 and another in November, 2008. In the course of conducting these searches, TES spent over $100,000 of its funds to pay for, inter alia, motel rooms, rented vehicles and other expenses related to the searches. Over 4,200 people from 13 states volunteered their time to participate in the searches for Caylee which TES coordinated, dedicating tens of thousands of hours to the searches. TES’ search for Caylee was the second most costly search in the organization’s history, and consumed 40% of its annual budget.

The financial and personnel resources that TES dedicated to the search for Caylee were resources that were not available to other families who sought TES’ assistance in locating their loved ones. During the time TES was searching for Caylee, according to the complaint, TES received more than 15 requests from other families searching for missing loved ones, and was unable to offer assistance to any of these families as TES was fully devoted to the search for Caylee.

Throughout this time, according to court documents, although she was aware of the time and expense being expended to search for her daughter, Casey Anthony never informed Mr. Miller or anyone from TES that she knew what had happened to Caylee. After Caylee’s remains were discovered, Defendant was arrested and charged with several crimes arising out of Caylee’s homicide. In his opening statement at Ms. Anthony’s criminal trial, her attorney, Mr. Baez, who had been present at early meetings with the Anthony family, stated that Caylee “never was missing. Caylee Anthony died June 16th, 2008, when she drowned in her family's swimming pool.” Ms. Anthony’s counsel stated that Ms. Anthony and her father were aware that Caylee had accidentally drowned and died.

Wites & Kapetan reviewed the case, and filed the complaint on behalf of Texas Equusearch pro bono. This means that Marc Wites and Alex Kapetan agreed that their law firm would never ask TES to pay the law firm any attorney’s fees, and to devote the resources of their firm to the case without charge to TES.

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Marc Wites