Court rules against estate award to Anna Nicole Smith. Federal appeals court overturns ruling that had awarded her $88.5 million of late tycoon husband's estate

By Gary Susman
Updated December 28, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Anna Nicole Smith’s billionaire husband, nonagenarian Texas tycoon J. Howard Marshall, died almost a decade ago, but the model/actress/reality show star has never seen a dime of any inheritance. And she may never see a dime, thanks to an appeals court ruling issued Thursday. According to the Associated Press, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier Texas court’s ruling that the oilman’s son, E. Pierce Marshall, was his sole heir. In 2002, a federal judge ruled that Smith was entitled to $88.5 million from the estate, but the 9th Circuit panel’s ruling overturns that decision on the grounds that the federal court should never have heard the case in the first place.

”After nine years of litigation, I’m very pleased by the judgment issued by the 9th Circuit upholding my father’s wishes regarding disposition of his assets,” E. Pierce Marshall said in a statement. But Smith’s lawyer Howard K. Stern, a regular on her E! show, called the reversal of the 2002 federal court ruling ”a legal technicality” and vowed to fight on. He said he would ask for a hearing before the entire 9th Circuit Court and, if necessary, would appeal the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, that would make some great reality TV.