UPDATE: Attorneys for Smith's estate filed court documents April 8 asking the court to review its decision, arguing that its ruling conflicts with legal precedent. The case could potentially go to the U.S. Supreme Court again if the 9th Circuit refuses to review or reverse its decision.
Poor Dannielynn. Literally.
The ruling by a three-judge panel could end a court battle that dates back to 1995—shortly after J. Howard Marshall II died and Smith sued son Pierce Marshall for half of his father's $1.6 billion. She eventually won $449 million, which was eventually reduced on appeal, and the case raged on even when the younger Marshall died in 2006 and Smith fell victim to a drug overdose the following year.
"After millions of dollars of legal fees, having Pierce dragged through the mud, at least we now know that he was right and they were wrong," Marshall family attorney Rusty Hardin told E! News.
Keith Richland, the legal eagle representing Smith's estate, said he would appeal.
"I can tell you that the decision of the 9th Circuit rendered today is really one that is without precedent and extends the law well beyond where it was before," Richland told E! News. "We are certainly going to be looking at an appeal to the [full] 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court."
Hardin's response? Bring it on.
"They can go ask the Supreme Court to go and look at it, but I would be very surprised if the Supreme Court decided to review it," Hardin said. "I think it's all over, even the shouting."
Smith met Marshall back in 1991, when he was 89 and she was a 25-year-old strip-club dancer still known as Vickie Lynn Hogan.
The 63-year age discrepancy didn't stop them from marrying in 1994. By then, she had become a Playboy pinup and had changed her name to Anna Nicole Smith.
Marshall died the following year, and Smith was not in his will, prompting her to sue. The case eventually wound its way to the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous ruling, the justices ruled in 2006 in favor of Smith's right to pursue her case at the federal level but refused to give her a share of the estate, kicking it back down to the lower court.
About the same time she was pregnant with Dannielynn by photographer Larry Birkhead. The child was named the sole heir of Smith's fortune after her death.
Meanwhile, the attorney who championed her legal fight for the cash, Howard K. Stern, is facing trial in August for allegedly plying Smith with the drugs that killed her.
—Additional reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum and Lindsay Miller
(Originally published March 19, 2010, at 12:02 p.m. PT)
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