Stripped Inheritance: Ninth Circuit Rules Against Family of Anna Nicole Smith

The long saga over the estate of Texas oilman J. Howard Marshall II has ended with the family of the late Anna Nicole Smith (aka Vickie Lynn Marshall) receiving nothing. As previously discussed, Smith’s case ultimately led to an important ruling of the Supreme Court.

The bankruptcy decision turns on the arcane question of what constitutes a “core” issue in the case. The Court concluded:

Vickie Lynn Marshall’s counterclaim against Pierce Marshall for tortious interference with an inter vivos gift is not a “core proceeding[ ] arising under title 11, or arising in a case under title 11” for which the bankruptcy court is empowered to enter a final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 157(c). Because the Texas probate court’s judgment was the earliest final judgment entered on matters relevant to this proceeding, the district court erred when it did not afford preclusive effect to the Texas probate court’s determination of relevant legal and factual issues. Several of these determinations prevent Vickie Lynn Marshall from prevailing on her tortious interference claim in this proceeding. Because of our disposition of these two issues, we need not reach, and do not reach, the many other issues raised by Pierce Marshall and Vickie Lynn Marshall.

The Smith family will receive none of the $300 million in the estate.

Here is the opinion: Smith opinion.

3 thoughts on “Stripped Inheritance: Ninth Circuit Rules Against Family of Anna Nicole Smith”

  1. If there isn’t a huge inheritance, does that mean the little girl is an orphan now?

  2. It’s always dangerous to be litigating the same issues simultaneously in differnt forums. But it is astonishing that the Law of Judgments could be so arbitrary as to have preclusion turn on a holding that what the 9th Circuit conceded was a compulsory counterclaim was not a “core proceeding” — thereby depriving the bankruptcy court of jurisdiction to enter a judgment prior to the Texas one.

    Professor, do you know whether either a) she tried to get the bankruptcy court to stay the probate proceeding in connection with her claims or b) there was any appellate litigation in Texas regarding the judgment of the probate court?

  3. Stripped Indeed. Stripped for Need. Not bad for a Dairy Queen Girl….

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