The Supreme Court recently ruled against the estate of the late model Anna Nicole Smith. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that Smith was wrongly awarded $400 million from the estate of her late husband by a bankruptcy court. When she was 26, Smith married wealthy oil executive J. Howard Marshall, who was 89. Marshall died just one year later and left everything to his son Pierce. A probate court in Texas awarded the estate to Pierce after Smith sued. However, Smith filed for bankruptcy in California and made claims that Pierce withheld money that Marshall had promised her. The bankruptcy court agreed with Smith and awarded her $400 million.
The Supreme Court case addressed the conflicting rulings by the Texas and California courts. The Court held that the United States Constitution prevents bankruptcy courts from ruling on claims outside of bankruptcy law. This means the California bankruptcy court was prevented from granting damages on tort claims. Therefore, the ruling from the Texas court stands and Marshall’s whole estate was awarded to Pierce.
The parties involved in the case did not live to see the outcome. In 2007, Smith died from an accidental overdose. Marshall’s son, Pierce, also died while the case was pending.
Newscore, Estate of Anna Nicole Smith Loses at Supreme Court,
https://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/estate_of_anna_nicole_smith_loses_tdc2FYsQQPIXCPZkKnE3aI (accessed June 28, 2011).