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How to Protect Your Client's Moon Dust

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By George Khoury, Esq. on September 27, 2018 4:08 PM

Recently, a lawsuit filed by an individual in possession of literal moon dust against NASA started heating up.

The case was filed by Laura Cicco, who claims to have a vial of moon dust that was given to her by Neil Armstrong when she was a 10-year-old girl. Armstrong was friends with her father, and the vial was a gift which she has cherished.

After seeing attempts from NASA to reclaim lunar property in the past, she sought the court's intervention to properly declare the moon dust belonged to her, rather than NASA. And while NASA has maintained that the lawsuit lacks merit, rather than just saying okay to the Cicco's request, NASA just filed a motion to dismiss this lawsuit, asserting that there is no need for the declaratory relief the petitioner is seeking.

Hide Your Moon Dust

Before filing the lawsuit, curiously Cicco stashed away her moon dust in an undisclosed location. This was due to her fear that if it became known she possessed the moon dust, the federal government would come to seize it as it did in 2005 to Max Ary, or later to Nancy Carlson.

Max Ary was convicted of selling museum property, notably a bag that had been used to collect moon dust. However, as you might suspect, the facts of Ary's case and Cicco's are rather different. But, more similarly, one of the pieces of evidence, that bag used to collect moon dust that was inadvertently sold at a government auction, was the subject of litigation that seems to lay the groundwork for Cicco's claim.

Shooting for the Moon

Unfortunately, Cicco's claim may be a little different than Nancy Carlson's case, but the declaratory relief action doesn't seem like the worst investment if she's actually planning on selling. Moon memorabilia like that can worth quite a bit of money (at least for now).

Carlson was ruled the rightful owner after buying the piece of evidence from a government auction, after the Ary trial. Even more notably, Carlson herself sent the bag to NASA to be tested. When they discovered what she had, the refused to return it. The judge in her case ruled the government could not undo that sale, and that the property had to be returned. That bag of moon dust was later sold for nearly $2 million.

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