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Ramirez Cartoon: China IP Theft

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez……[more]

July 29, 2021 • 10:02 AM

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Anna Nicole's Legal Legacy Lives Long After her Death Print
By CFIF Staff
Friday, February 08 2008
With a playbill that includes venue shopping, exorbitant litigation costs, greed and massive courtroom burdens, Marshall v. Marshall continues long after the Anna Nicole's death.

This week marks the one year anniversary of the death of former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith.  A mere 12 months after her passing, the lasting legacy of her endless pursuit of her late husband's fortune continues to play out.  In fact, perhaps no other case in the history of our nation better highlights the need for tort reform than Anna Nicole's case against the Marshall estate.

With a playbill that includes venue shopping, exorbitant litigation costs, greed and massive courtroom burdens, Marshall v. Marshall continues long after the Anna Nicole's death. 

Longtime readers of CFIF's website are familiar with the script, as we have written about it before here.

The Marshall v. Marshall litigation stems from Anna Nicole's 1994 marriage to a wealthy 89-year-old Texan, J. Howard Marshall, II, who died one year after they wed.  Anna Nicole filed a lawsuit claiming that Marshall promised to leave her a large portion of his estate. 

Marshall's son and heir, Pierce Marshall, passed away in 2006.  With Anna Nicole's death less than one year later, one would think the case would have ended.  Instead, her lawyers have given it a life of its own, with Anna Nicole's ex-boyfriend/companion, Howard K. Stern, serving as the executor of the legal proceedings. 

Initially, the Texas Probate Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that although J. Howard Marshall II provided for his then 26-year-old wife during his life, he had not made her a beneficiary of his will. Nor, the court ruled, did the younger Marshall interfere with the will.  Anna Nicole's claims were found to be untrue.  Still, in 2006, the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately sent the case back to the Ninth Circuit for reconsideration on narrow jurisdictional grounds.

Only time will tell how the Ninth Circuit will rule, for the second time.  What is certain is that never-ending cases like this one send chills throughout the legal system, both because of their costs and tactics.

Recent studies estimate that litigation currently costs Americans between $140 billion and $250 billion every single year. 

The Center for Individual Freedom has always supported an individual's right to bring a lawsuit forward, but in a case like this, where the litigants have died and outrageous legal maneuvers have prevailed, attorneys shame the justice system when they continue to move forward.  Anna Nicole is dead now, and all efforts to continue her ill-founded lawsuit should end. By continuing, a ripple effect is being sent throughout the legal system regarding the future of estate planning in America.

Anna Nicole Smith relished in her fame and notoriety.  Unfortunately, with this case, her true legacy becomes a negative shift in legal cases throughout the nation.

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