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Raunchy stripper wins hubby's fortune!

The one-time stripper and Playboy magazine Playmate Anna Nicole Smith can pursue part of her late husband's oil fortune. See pics

india Updated: May 02, 2006 14:45 IST
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The Supreme Court ruled onMonday that one-time stripper and Playboy magazine Playmate Anna Nicole Smith can pursue part of her late husband's oil fortune.

Justices were unanimous in giving new legal life to Smith's bid to collect millions of dollars from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, which has been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion (euro1.2 billion)

Smith has been embroiled in a long running cross-country court fight with Marshall's youngest son, E. Pierce Marshall. The court's decision means that it will likely not end anytime soon - although there is no guarantee she will collect any money. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in the opinion that a Texas court did not have the last word when it ruled against the blonde reality television star.

"This is just another battle in a very long war," said Douglas Baird, a bankruptcy expert at the University of Chicago. The ruling gives federal courts more authority to resolve disputes that arise out of estates.

Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a separate opinion to say that he would have given federal courts more jurisdiction. He said Smith's appeal was "an easy case."

Smith was a 26-year-old topless dancer when she married Marshall, then 89, in 1994. He died the following year, setting off an intense family fight.

At issue for the justices was competing court jurisdiction. A Texas court held a five-month trial before deciding that Smith was entitled to nothing from Marshall's estate. Smith brought a separate claim in federal court in California.

Justices said on Monday that the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in California was wrong in ruling that federal courts could not handle Smith's case.

Smith, the spokeswoman for a diet products company, had been awarded $474 million (euro378 million) by a federal bankruptcy judge. That was later reduced by a federal district judge and then thrown out altogether by the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit. The case now goes back to California.

"I will continue to fight to uphold my father's estate plan," Pierce Marshall said Monday.

Ginsburg noted that there are several pending issues that could still keep Smith from collecting any money.

Before his death Marshall showered Smith with $6.6 million (euro5.2 million) in gifts that included two homes, expensive jewelry and clothes. She contends that he also promised her half his estate. Ginsburg's opinion, and announcement from the bench, included only a hint of the nastiness of the family feud. She said there were accusations that Pierce Marshall "engaged in forgery, fraud, and overreaching to gain control of his father's assets" and, on the other side, that Smith had defamed her former stepson.

IN PICTURES

Raunchy Anna Nicole Smith