Published December 30, 2004
| Associated Press
LOS ANGELES – A federal appeals court Thursday threw out a judge's ruling that awarded $88.5 million to former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith (search) from the estate of her late husband, an oil tycoon who died at age 90 just over a year after they wed.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a Texas probate court's decision that the oilman's son was his sole heir should stand. The appeals court said the federal judge in California who ruled in Smith's favor in 2002 sho not received any of her late husband's estate. The $88.5 million was put on hold during the appeals process.
Her lawyer, Howard K. Stern (search), said the TV reality show star would ask the full appeals court to rehear the case, and would appeal to the Supreme Court if necessary.
"The 9th Circuit Court has, on a legal technicality, reversed the judgments of two federal courts that found massive fraud and other wrongdoing by E. Pierce Marshall (search) by which he deprived (Smith) of the property that her husband intended her to have," Stern said.
A federal court ruled in 2002 that Smith — whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall — was entitled to compensatory and punitive damages because the younger Marshall altered, destroyed and falsified documents to try to keep her from receiving money from his father's estate.
Thursday's ruling reverted to the findings of a Houston probate judge, who had ruled the son is the sole heir — and does not owe Smith anything.
Smith filed for bankruptcy in 1996. As part of its ruling, the 9th Circuit said the bankruptcy court should now hear testimony on other charges she made that the court had disregarded.
Included among those was that the younger Marshall exercised undue influence on his father in making his will.