WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Howard K. Stern, the former attorney and companion of Anna Nicole Smith, filed a slander lawsuit Friday against an attorney for Smith's estranged mother who has suggested Stern was involved in Smith's death.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, also accuses attorney John O'Quinn of invasion of privacy and seeks unspecified damages.
A telephone message left by The Associated Press on Friday afternoon for O'Quinn was not immediately returned. O'Quinn is representing Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, in a custody battle over Smith's baby.
Smith died in February at age 39 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The medical examiner in the case ruled her death an accidental drug overdose.
According to the lawsuit, O'Quinn appeared on several national television shows in which he suggested Stern murdered Smith. During an interview in Fort Lauderdale, O'Quinn told FOX News Show's Greta Van Susteren that Arthur believed Stern had murdered her daughter and that O'Quinn agreed with her. O'Quinn also suggested on MSNBC that Stern had ulterior motives for wanting to see Smith's will days before Smith died.
"The public airwaves should never be used to promote personal agendas or vendettas," Stern's attorneys L. Lin Wood said in a statement issued Friday.
The lawsuit came days after a DNA expert revealed Smith's former boyfriend, Los Angeles photographer Larry Birkhead, was the father of Smith's baby, not Stern. Stern has said he would not fight to retain custody of 7-month-old Dannielynn. But Arthur is seeking visitation rights.
Smith gave birth to Dannielynn in September in a Bahamas hospital, days before her 20-year-old son, Daniel, died from a lethal combination of drugs at her bedside.
Meanwhile, legal wrangling continues over the estate of Smith's late husband, Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995. It remains unclear how much, if any, of the $500 million Marshall estate Dannielynn might inherit and whether her guardian would have access to the money.