DALLAS – A month after the death of E. Pierce Marshall, who feuded for years with Anna Nicole Smith over his father's oil fortune, his family says they are more committed than ever in their legal battle against the former Playboy playmate.
"Nothing has changed from the family's standpoint as to how this case should end up and we will handle it as Pierce did, in his honor," the family told The Dallas Morning News in a written statement.
Marshall, the son of tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, died June 20 at age 67. His family said his death was caused by a brief and extremely aggressive infection.
Smith, a former stripper, married the family patriarch in 1994, when he was 89 and she was 26. He died a year later, launching the legal dispute that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million in a complicated legal twist that began after she declared bankruptcy. That was later overturned.
Last March, Smith won another victory when the U.S. Supreme Court revived the case. The justices ruled that federal courts could have jurisdiction and told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider her case.
Family friend and Houston attorney Rusty Hardin said the federal court soon will be notified that Elaine Marshall, E. Pierce Marshall's widow, is now the estate representative.
Kent L. Richland, one of Smith's attorneys, thought the change might lead to a settlement.
"Certainly, there is a fact that there will be a change in personalities involved," he said. "That opens up the possibility there will be a different attitude. Assets change hands. That is often a time when people want to access what is in their best interest."