Anna Nicole Smith's daughter has just come into some cold hard cash — up to $49 million, in fact.
E. Pierce Marshall, the son of Smith's late millionaire husband J. Howard Marshall II, had been embroiled in a nasty legal battle against his late stepmother up until his own death in 2006. Now, a California federal judge has ordered J. Pierce Marshall's estate to pay sanctions over "massive discovery abuse" that took place during this bitter brawl.
In his decision, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter admitted that he was forced to order an end to the effort of Smith's estate to recover hundreds of millions of dollars from her deceased husband's estate. However, Pierce's estate isn't off the hook.
Carter ordered unspecified sanctions against Pierce for using delaying tactics (like shipping crucial legal documents to a lawyer in Lake Charles, Louisiana, to keep them from Smith's legal team) to stall the battle. Describing Pierce's behavior as "too pervasive and too egregious to be ignored," Carter made it clear that Pierce's estate has to pay.
"It would promote disrespect for the authority of the federal courts to turn a blind eye to actions that willfully and blatantly attempted to make a mockery of this justice system," the judge wrote in his decision. "Further, it would reward a party for win-at-all-cost tactics, to the deprivation of his opponent. Such behavior cannot be condoned."
He also ordered Edwin Hunter, the lawyer who represented the Marshall family holding company, to show why he shouldn't pay sanctions as well since he was previously caught in a slew of shady activities to try to benefit his client's interests.
While Carter didn't specify an amount, in last March he suggested it could climb as high as $49 million. That's a lot of money (potentially) coming to Dannielynn Birkhead, the 6-year-old daughter of Smith and her one-time boyfriend Larry Birkhead, who now raises the girl.
“This is a complete vindication of Anna Nicole’s rights and a total condemnation of what was done to her,” Phil Boesch, the attorney representing Smith's estate, told Forbes. “We are confident that the amount Anna’s estate and daughter Dannielynn will finally be awarded will be fair and substantial.”
Regardless of the money she receives, Dannielynn seems to be doing just fine. Last year she controversially became the face of Guess Kids — and she recently received rave reviews for her adorable style at the Kentucky Derby. It seems the older she gets, the more she resembles her famous mother ... and the more likely it is that she will earn some serious paychecks in her own right.
Speaking of her mom, the first photo has surfaced from Lifetime's Anna Nicole Smith biopic. Clad in a clingy red dress, 27-year-old Agnes Bruckner, who plays the late model, affectionately kisses Martin Landau, 84, who portrays Smith's late millionaire husband.
No word yet on what Dannielynn thinks of the forthcoming film, but something tells us she's got plenty of other things on her mind.
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