A federal appellate court panel ruled Friday that the estate of Anna Nicole Smith is not entitled to any of the millions of dollars left by Smith's late oil magnate husband, J. Howard Marshall, when he died.
The decision comes as another blow to the main beneficiary of Smith's estate: her 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Dannielynn Birkhead.
"It's been a very sort of sad story – so many people involved in this case have died," says Kent Richland, the appellate lawyer for the model's estate. Still, he vows that "this is not the final step" in the legal battle, People Magazine reports.
The former Playboy Playmate and model has only one surviving heir–her daughter Danielyn who was fathered by photographer Larry Birkhead.
The marriage between Smith and Marshall began in 1994 when Smith was just 26-years-old and Marshall 89. The May-December love affair did not last long as Marshall died a little over a year later. Smith died of drug overdose in 2007, Daily Contributor reports.
Eric Brunstad, who represented the Marshall, said Smith's estate could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he hoped the case was now closed.
"The family's position all along is that they have just been trying to vindicate J. Howard Marshall's wishes and to clear Pierce's name. Our position has always been that Pierce ... was just trying to follow his father's intentions," Brunstad said.
Pierce Marshall's widow, Elaine, continued defending Howard Marshall's will on behalf of her late husband's estate, and the Marshall family said Friday's ruling vindicated their efforts.
"The lies that were told about E. Pierce Marshall have finally been put to rest," the family said in a statement. "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," Reuters informs.
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