Casey Anthony’s civil attorneys asked a judge Monday to throw out punitive damages in a defamation lawsuit filed against their client by Zenaida Gonzalez.
Gonzalez is suing Anthony for defamation and claims she was harassed and threatened after Anthony came up with a fictitious nanny named Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, also known as "Zanny the Nanny." Anthony accused the fictitious nanny of kidnapping her daughter, Caylee.
Anthony’s lawyers want the judge to rule that Gonzalez’s attorneys have failed to prove that Anthony and her mother are personally guilty of “intentional” or reckless conduct. Gonzalez must show that Anthony and her mother tried to intentionally harm her and acted “recklessly” to be awarded punitive damages.
Punitive damages are different than compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a plaintiff after a loss caused by the defendant. Punitive damages go above and beyond that in certain circumstances to punish the defendant and are meant to prevent the behavior in the future.
In 2009, when the punitive claim was approved by the former judge, 2008 statements made by Anthony to law enforcement were admissible.
However, the current judge threw those comments out, ruling them inadmissible. Now Anthony's attorneys say the only remaining evidence in the defamation suit is a 15-second statement Anthony made to her mother about Gonzalez in a recorded jail conversation.
Anthony’s attorneys are arguing that since this is the only remaining evidence, it is not sufficient enough to prove that Anthony or her mother acted intentionally or recklessly, because she was defaming someone she didn't even know, thus eliminating the legal basis supporting a punitive damages claim.
In the motion filed Monday, Anthony’s defense attorneys also list the many differences between Zenaida Gonzalez, the plaintiff, and Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez, the fictional nanny. The differences include nicknames (Bebe vs. Zanny), ethnicity (Puerto Rican vs. a mix of black and Hispanic parents), and tattoos (many vs. none.)
Earlier this month, both parties agreed to not mention Anthony’s criminal trail during the civil trial, because it might be too prejudicial.