Larry Birkhead was steaming mad, but Howard K. Stern was quicker on the trigger.
Anna Nicole Smith's former paramour filed a $60 million libel lawsuit Tuesday against journalist Rita Cosby, alleging that her tell-all, Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death, is riddled with false information, Stern's attorney, L. Lin Wood, confirmed to E! Online.
Cosby's book, which suggests that Stern and Birkhead were lovers who plotted to get control of the late model's estate, has "exploited Ms. Smith's life and death by publishing false and defamatory factual accusations against" the plaintiff, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in New York. (View the complaint.)
Per the suit, among the myriad denigrating items in the book are claims that Stern was involved in criminal lewd acts, homosexual activity, illegal possession and use of cocaine, and conspiracy to commit murder and kidnapping for ransom.
The book also says Stern handed over custody of Dannielynn to Birkhead, regardless of the child's welfare, in exchange for the post of executor of Smith's will.
"Blonde Ambition purports to be a 'tell-all' book, but it can only be accurately described as a 'tell-all-lies' book," Wood said in a statement.
Cosby, a former MSNBC correspondent who closely followed Birkhead's paternity case against Smith, has claimed there is a videotape in existence depicting Dannielynn's baby daddy and Stern engaged in sexual activity, and that an employee of Smith's saw the TrimSpa spokesmodel watching it. She also said she'd be expecting some backlash from the gentlemen.
Birkhead, who has also threatened to sue, has flatly denied such a tape exists—because the encounter never took place, he said. Attorney Michael Trope said Tuesday that it's just a "matter of time" before his client follows suit, so to speak, and officially goes after Cosby himself.
"That is absolutely false," the Los Angeles-based photographer told the New York Daily News last month after learning of Blonde Ambition's meatier subject matter. "And I am sure Howard and the estate and everyone else involved is going to sue her, too. This is just nonsense...None of it is true."
Hachette Book Group USA, which has also been named as a defendant, did not return calls for comment.
Stern's attorney sent warning letters to Cosby and publisher Carol Ross on Aug. 31, each one stating that one of Cosby's sources, Jackie Hatten, was entirely unreliable and that "basing any accusation against Mr. Stern on Hatten's statements will constitute replication by you with a reckless disregard for truth or falsity."
Hatten is the brother of Mark "Hollywood" Hatten, a former boyfriend of Smith's who's currently in jail for stalking the late Playmate. The incarcerated sibling is also suing Stern for $100 million, claiming the lawyer violated his civil rights during the stalking trial and tried to kill him with a "toxic blend" of antidepressants.
"Most of these witnesses, or, you can't even call them witnesses, but sources to Rita Cosby's book, they were doing media after media interview after Anna passed away, and they took every shot at me that their imaginations could possibly dream up," Stern told Entertainment Tonight last month.
"That woman Rita Cosby is either the dumbest person on earth, or she knows that she's printing false information. And I don't think she's the dumbest person on earth."