July 17, 2001 12:17pm
Court to Anna Nicole Smith: Get Out Your Checkbook
Source: Margulies Communications
by: Company Press Release
(HOUSTON, TX) -- In a stinging rebuke to former stripper Anna Nicole Smith, Houston Probate Judge Mike Wood issued a final judgment today ruling that she must pay more than $541,000 in attorneys fees to E. Pierce Marshall.
In addition, Smith also is jointly and severally liable for more than $1.2 million in temporary administrator's fees paid by her late husband's estate, as well as other expenses associated with the case.
Judge Wood presided over a five and a half-month trial, after which the jury voted unanimously that Smith's claim Pierce Marshall interfered with her late husband's promise of half of everything he owned was a lie.
``I am deeply indebted to my entire legal team, which demonstrated great skill, knowledge and teamwork in presenting this complex case to the jury in an understandable manner,'' E. Pierce Marshall said. ``That team consisted of Houston attorneys Rusty Hardin of Rusty Hardin & Associates, Lee Ware, Don Fogel and Don Jackson of Ware, Snow, Fogel & Jackson, and Dallas counsel Jeff Chambers of The Chambers Law Firm. They are a great credit to the profession. This victory belongs to them.
``Anna Nicole's case was nothing more than a feeding frenzy brought by a bevy of greedy contingency fee lawyers 'star-struck' by false reports of our family's net worth,'' said Marshall. ``Fortunately, jurors saw Smith's case for what it was, an attempted 'shakedown' wholly without merit. Not only will this case cost Anna Nicole money, but her attorneys as well who are also out millions of dollars in costs.''
Anna Nicole Smith was represented in her defeat by: Tom Cunningham, Richard Zook, John Chapoton, John Powell and Kalli O'Malley of Cunningham, Zook, Darlow and Chapoton, L.L.P., Houston.
Another of Smith's attorneys, Diana E. Marshall (no relation), formerly of Schechter & Marshall, L.L.P., Houston., previously lost a multimillion-dollar defamation suit brought by E. Pierce Marshall on similar facts.
``There was never any evidence against our client, Pierce Marshall,'' said attorney Lee Ware, who urged the Court's rulings. ``J. Howard Marshall, II didn't promise her half of anything,'' Ware told the court.
Ware reminded the Court of Smith's tortured logic from the witness stand. ``J. Howard loved me. Therefore, he wanted to give me more than he gave me. If he didn't, it must be Pierce Marshall's fault,'' Ware quoted Smith as saying. ``There was never any evidence of any wrongdoing by Pierce Marshall,'' Ware reminded the Court.
Judge Wood's ruling follows a ruling in June by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter vacating a $475 million judgment Smith obtained last year from a California bankruptcy court.
``The money Smith has been ordered to pay should send a clear message to her and her bevy of contingency fee lawyers that it does not pay to come to court with a lie when you have no witnesses and no facts to back up your claims,'' said Pierce Marshall. ``My father gave me the responsibility of probating his will and I have carried out his wishes. I fully intend to take whatever actions are necessary to see that Smith repays our family for the money spent fighting her malicious, fabricated claims.
``Apparently, throughout these proceedings Smith and her attorneys have underestimated my commitment to carrying out my father's final wishes that he clearly expressed in six wills and seven separate property trusts over 13 years prior to his death. I am gratified the Court has ruled that the wills and trusts are valid and that this portion of the battle is over. It is time for Smith to pay up and move on.''
MARGULIES COMMUNICATIONS GROUP, Dallas
David Margulies, 214/368-0909