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Lawyer for Smith Lover Seeks Fees

Posted Jun 7, 2007 12:32 PM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawyer for the man determined to be the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby is asking a Los Angeles court to enforce an agreement to arbitrate their fee dispute.

Debra Opri says she spent 600 hours working on legal matters for Larry Birkhead, and associates and support staff worked another 500 hours, according to the Los Angeles Times. She attached documents to the petition to show Birkhead agreed to pay $475 an hour for her services and $120 an hour for clerks. She also says she spent thousands of dollars in litigation-related expenses.

Birkhead in turn is seeking to recover at least $862,500 from a client trust fund with the lawyer. He has filed a suit against Opri alleging fraud and legal malpractice.

Opri says she helped Birkhead establish paternity and create an image for him as an "aw-shucks nice guy."

Smith was found dead in a Florida hotel room in February. Her death was caused by an overdose of legal drugs.

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