July 13, 2011 / 5:10 PM / 8 years ago

Search group sues Casey Anthony for costly efforts

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - A non-profit group on Wednesday served Casey Anthony in jail with a lawsuit seeking to recoup more than $100,000 spent on the massive 2008 search for her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Casey Anthony (C) smiles at Defense Counsel Cheney Mason and Dorothy Clay Sims, before her sentencing at the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida, July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Burbank/Pool

The lawsuit filed by Texas EquuSearch is the second civil court fight Anthony, acquitted last week of killing Caylee, will face after she is released from jail on Sunday.

A woman named Zenaida Gonzalez filed a defamation lawsuit against Anthony after she lied to investigators that a nanny by that name had kidnapped Caylee.

A Florida jury found 25-year-old Anthony not guilty of a first-degree murder charge stemming from the 2008 death of Caylee, whose skeletal remains were later found in woods near the Anthony family home.

Casey Anthony was convicted of misdemeanor charges of lying to detectives during the investigation and sentenced to the maximum four years in jail.

She will be released this weekend after receiving credit for time served awaiting trial and good behavior.

The Texas EquuSearch lawsuit alleges fraud and unjust enrichment, claiming Anthony encouraged the organization to mount what became one of the largest and most expensive searches in its 11-year history despite knowing Caylee was dead.

The lawsuit points to the opening statement in Anthony’s murder trial, when her attorney Jose Baez told jurors Caylee accidentally drowned on June 16, 2008 in the family’s backyard pool.

Caylee “never was missing,” Baez told jurors.

As a result of the resources devoted to finding Caylee, the search organization was forced to turn down 15 other families who sought its help during the same time, the lawsuit stated.

It said the search saved Anthony’s defense team the cost of hiring its own investigators to look for Caylee.

“Casey Anthony knew that her apparent ‘cooperation’ with the massive searches coordinated by TES created an appearance that she was a victim of law enforcement’s unjust investigation and that she was a concerned mother seeking her missing child’s return,” the lawsuit states.

Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller said Anthony’s parents, George and Cindy, never wavered from their contention Caylee had been abducted and was still alive, and Casey never contradicted that assertion.

But Miller said that at the start of the search Casey Anthony’s lawyer blocked him from questioning her.

“Jose Baez said, ‘You can do anything you need to do, but don’t ask my client any questions about her daughter,’” Miller told Reuters. “I wasn’t going to step over that line.”

The lawyer in the defamation suit against Anthony plans to take her deposition on July 19 at his downtown Orlando law office, two days after her release from jail.

John Morgan on Wednesday filed a motion seeking to compel Anthony’s appearance at the deposition and to have her held in contempt of court if she does not show up, Morgan’s assistant Kimberly Davis told Reuters.

Davis said the deposition will be closed to the public and the media, and security arrangements were being made.

Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton

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