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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Hear Anna Nicole Smith Estate Claim to Late Husband’s Fortune

Posted Sep 28, 2010 9:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the heirs of Anna Nicole Smith in a battle over her late husband's fortune.

The Supreme Court granted cert today, the Associated Press reports.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that Smith's heirs weren't entitled to the millions of dollars she sought from J. Howard Marshall's estate after her year-long marriage to the elderly billionaire ended with his death.

Marshall did not include Smith in his will, but she had claimed he was improperly influenced by his son, Pierce Marshall, who interfered with the elder Marshall's estate plans.

At issue is whether a judge presiding over Smith’s bankruptcy had authority to find Pierce Marshall liable for tortious interference with a trust set up for Smith, according to the petition for certiorari (PDF posted by SCOTUSblog). The bankruptcy court awarded $474 million in damages on Smith’s claim, filed with the bankruptcy court after Pierce Marshall asserted a claim for defamation. A judge later reduced the amount to $88.6 million, SCOTUSblog reported in its original coverage of the 9th Circuit decision.

Smith died of an accidental prescription drug overdose in 2007; two physicians and Smith’s former lawyer and boyfriend are being tried on drug conspiracy charges in the death. Closing arguments are scheduled for Thursday, Reuters reports.

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