Birkhead's Ex-Lawyer Debra Opri Sues Him for Defamation

The father of Anna Nicole Smith's infant daughter was sued by his former attorney, who claims Larry Birkhead attempted to damage her reputation by making defamatory remarks.

Debra Opri's lawsuit, filed Monday, accuses Birkhead of falsely claiming in a CNN interview that she was a source for "Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death."

The book, by journalist Rita Cosby, claims Birkhead worked with Howard K. Stern, Smith's lawyer and sometime boyfriend, to manipulate the media and maximize profits after Smith died.

Opri denies providing information to Cosby. She contends his defamatory remarks were "planned and malicious."

An after-hours call to Birkhead's attorney, Michael Trope, was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit claims defamation, fraud and other allegations, and seeks damages, including about $200,000 Opri says she spent to hire a crisis management firm to "salvage" her reputation. It was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Monday, she said.

Birkhead and Opri also are locked in a separate court battle over legal bills from the Smith paternity case.

In December, a Los Angeles judge ruled in Birkhead's favor in the paternity case and a DNA test later revealed that he was the father of Smith's daughter.