Monday, May 01, 2006

Anna Nicole Smith wins a day in federal court

In a unanimous decision authored by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Anna Nicole Smith case. To review, Anna's 89-year-old husband allegedly had promised her a trust to take care of her for the rest of her life, but the arrangements were not completed before his death. She was not provided for in his will.

When Anna declared bankruptcy in California, her stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, brought an action alleging that her comments about his attempts to grab control of his father's estate amounted to defamation and alleging that his claim would not be discharged in bankruptcy. Anna asserted truth as a defense, and brought a counterclaim for tortious interference with her inheritance. She won.

Note that her claim wasn't against the estate--if it had been, she would likely have lost, because the federal courts don't normally do probate law. But they may entertain lawsuits such as Smith's, the Supreme Court now rules.

1 comment:

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