A Legal Analysis of Tiger King, Episode 7: "Caged Beasts"

June 18, 2020

By: Thomas K. Rinaldi

It has been a long journey analyzing Mr. Exotic’s legal woes. Who would have imagined that one person could face so many issues? In the series finale, Joe finds himself, like his tigers, locked in a cage after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot that made as much sense as Mr. Exotic’s dye job or his insatiable need to face off against Carole Baskin.

Mr. Exotic being locked in a prison cell is not the only ironic outcome. Mr. Exotic did everything he could to save the zoo from his archrival, Carole Baskin. He went so far as to transfer control of the zoo to Jeff Lowe and his ownership of the real property to his mother. But his actions weren’t necessarily proper or legal.

Before, during and after Big Cat Rescue sued Mr. Exotic and G.W. Zoo, I would have advised Mr. Exotic of post-judgment collectability issues. It is important to realize an attorney cannot advise a client as to how to defraud a creditor or delay their collection efforts. 

I would have explained to Mr. Exotic that if a judgment debtor fraudulently transfers assets to avoid collection, the transfer can be set aside by the court. So, if Mr. Exotic transferred assets with the actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud Carole Baskin, the transfer may be deemed a fraudulent transfer. For example, if Mr. Exotic transferred his royalty rights to his future Grammy Award-winning country hits to thwart Ms. Baskin’s collection efforts, then the transfer might be unwound.

After the series finale aired, a federal judge ruled that Mr. Exotic’s transfer of certain property to his mom was, indeed, a fraudulent transfer. Ultimately, the judge granted Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue control of the real property where the zoo was located. 

Don’t be like Joe. If you are having issues collecting a judgment that you have received and would like to discuss your options, please feel free to contact Thomas K. Rinaldi, a.k.a. the “Attorney Ordinary,” in Florida or Joshua O’Neill in New York. Also, if your business requires bankruptcy or business restructuring assistance, Bond’s bankruptcy team may be able to assist.