The 15 year battle over the estate of billionaire oilman J. Howard Marshall, II. landed back in court last week.
Mr. Marshall died in 1995 aged 90. His will left the entirety of his $1.6 billion estate to son E. Pierce Marshall.
Yet, 14 months before his death, Mr. Marshall married 26-year-old Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, who claimed he promised to give her $300 million.
Claiming she’d been duped, Ms. Smith initiated legal proceedings challenging the will. She claimed E. Pierce Marshall and others exercised undue influence over her husband and prevented him giving her any money.
In 2000, a judge in Los Angeles ruled in her favour and ordered she should receive $450 million. The following year, however, a court in Houston awarded the estate to E. Pierce Marshall. Then, in 2002, a federal court issued yet another ruling awarding Ms. Smith $88 million.
E. Pierce Marshall appealed. He died in 2006, however, and his claim to the fortune passed to his wife and children.
In 2008, Ms. Smith died too – from a drug overdose – and her claim over the estate passed to her infant daughter Danielynn.
Last week, a federal appeal court found in favour of the heirs of E. Pierce Marshall.
“The lies that were told about told about E. Pierce Marshall have finally been put to rest,” said a statement issued by the Marshall family. “Pierce Marshall was never intimidated by Anna Nicole and her bevy of contingency fee lawyers’ use of her celebrity and the legal system to try to loot J. Howard’s estate. We are proud to have supported his efforts and continue that fight. Our only wish would be that Pierce was here to see his vindication.”
Kent Richland, representing the Smith estate, said he would appeal the latest ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
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