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Anna Nicole Smith Estate Gets U.S. High Court Hearing

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from Anna Nicole Smith’s estate of a ruling that gave the former Playboy model nothing from the fortune left by her billionaire late husband, J. Howard Marshall II.

More than four years after they ruled in Smith’s favor in a legal fight with her stepson, E. Pierce Marshall, the justices today agreed to intervene in the case a second time.

Smith’s estate is seeking to revive claims stemming from a half-billion-dollar trust her husband, a Texas oil tycoon, set up for her before his 1995 death. She accused Pierce Marshall, who died in 2006, of illegally interfering with the trust.

Smith at one point won an $89 million award on that claim, which she filed with the court handling her bankruptcy case. A federal appeals court ruled in March that Smith’s estate couldn’t recover that money because a Texas court handling Howard Marshall’s will had already ruled that he didn’t intend to leave any of his $1.6 billion to her.

The issue for the Supreme Court is whether the appeals court improperly limited the power of federal bankruptcy judges.

Smith was 26 when she married the 89-year-old Howard Marshall in 1994. She died in 2007 at age 39 of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, leaving behind a daughter who is now 4 years old. Smith’s onetime lawyer and boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, is serving as executor of her estate.

The case is Stern v. Marshall, 10-179.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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