A Legal Analysis of Tiger King, Episode 6: "The Noble Thing To Do"

June 11, 2020

By: Thomas K. Rinaldi and Joshua M.C. O'Neill

As we near the finish line of Joe Exotic’s tale, the sixth episode (“The Noble Thing To Do”) raises more questions than answers. Although we finally learn why Mr. Exotic is in county jail, something about the murder-for-hire plot just doesn’t seem to add up. Why would Joe hire someone he doesn’t appear to like or trust to carry out a murder for hire? Is $3,000 the going rate to kill a business rival? Doc Antle doesn’t think so.

As general counsel to Mr. Exotic and G.W. Zoo, I would have to refer Mr. Exotic to a criminal lawyer to pursue these perplexing questions, as well as provide a defense in his pending criminal case. However, it appears that the business issues between Mr. Exotic and Jeff Lowe are what truly led to Mr. Exotic’s incarceration. 

By this time, Mr. Exotic had transferred zoo ownership to Jeff Lowe but remained in control of the zoo’s daily operations. One day, Jeff discovered that Mr. Exotic had been allegedly embezzling money from the zoo. It’s unclear if Mr. Exotic took or merely borrowed money from the zoo (either way it would likely be considered embezzlement). It was abundantly clear, however, that Mr. Exotic’s relationship with Jeff Lowe had deteriorated.

Things got so bad between the pair of misfits that Mr. Lowe became an informant to the FBI. After discussing estate planning issues with Mr. Exotic, we would need to discuss the possibility of alternative dispute resolution with Mr. Lowe.

Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, provides parties an avenue to resolve disputes without litigation. This can save money, time and other resources in the long run. Perhaps, if Mr. Exotic and Mr. Lowe had a contract between them that stipulated any and all disputes would need to be mediated, they could have come to a compromise about the missing/embezzled funds. Perhaps this would have stopped Mr. Lowe from becoming a confidential informant. Perhaps not. 

Don’t be like Joe. Realize that having a contractual agreement in place requiring pre-suit mediation may be in your best interest. If you are having issues with a business partner and would like to discuss your business litigation needs, please feel free to contact Thomas K. Rinaldi, a.k.a. the “Attorney Ordinary,” in Florida or Joshua O’Neill in New York.