$88.5M award to Anna Nicole Smith reversed
December 30, 2004
LOS ANGELES – A federal appeals court on Thursday reversed a lower court’s ruling that former Playboy Playmate and reality television star Anna Nicole Smith can have $88.5 million from the estate of her late husband, an elderly oil tycoon who died 14 months after they wed.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Texas probate court’s decision that the oilman’s son was his rightful heir should stand. That decision reversed a lower federal court in California, which a three-judge panel of the appeals court said improperly heard the case.
The decision comes after years of wrangling over the estate in three courts which have issued conflicting opinions over the intentions of millionaire J. Howard Marshall II.
Smith has fought court battles in California and Texas over the fortune of a man she met in 1991 when she was a stripper. The couple married three years later when she was 26 and he was 89.
A federal district court ruled in 2002 that Smith, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, was entitled to the payment from the estate of Marshall, who died at 90 just over a year after they wed. That court contradicted the probate ruling, finding that E. Pierce Marshall altered, destroyed and falsified documents in an attempt to keep Smith from receiving the money.
But Thursday’s ruling reverted to the findings of a Houston probate judge, who had ruled that E. Pierce Marshall is the sole heir of his father’s estate and does not owe Smith anything.