Former Playboy Playmate of the Year Anna Nicole Smith won a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday and gets a new chance to collect millions of dollars she says her late Texas oil tycoon husband promised her.
The Supreme Court overturned an appeals court ruling that the former topless dancer was entitled to nothing because federal courts lacked jurisdiction to hear claims that are also involved in state probate hearings.
Smith, who was just 26 when she married oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall, then 89, in 1994. They met three years earlier when she was a dancer in a Houston strip club.
Marshall was one of the wealthiest men in Texas, worth more than an estimated $1.6 billion. His death after 14 months of marriage triggered a legal battle between his son, E. Pierce Marshall and Smith, who also had a reality show.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in Monday's ruling that the appeals court was wrong and the district court properly asserted jurisdiction over Smith's claims against Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall.
Smith said that her husband promised her half of his estate. The son said the more than $6 million in gifts she received in 1994 was all his father wanted her to get.
In Texas, a state probate court ruled that E. Pierce Marshall was entitled to his father's estate.
But in California, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled for Smith and awarded her $474 million because of her claims the son had interfered with the inheritance she was supposed to receive.