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January 05, 2001 02:57pm
Former Playmate Smith Drops Texas Lawsuit
Source: Reuters

(HOUSTON, TX) -- Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith dropped a Texas lawsuit seeking half her late 90-year-old husband's fortune on Friday after a California judge upheld last week a $475 million award in her favor.

Attorneys for Smith, 32, said they believed the California decision would stand up to appeals, which made the Texas case extraneous.

``She's won her case. She's gotten her judgement in California, so why pursue her claims here?'' lawyer Tom Cunningham told reporters after filing the motion to dump the lawsuit.

Their decision came three months into a trial in which Smith's lawyers tried to show she had been cheated out of her share of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall's estimated $1.6 billion estate by 61-year-old stepson Pierce Marshall, his father's sole heir.

On Dec. 29, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Samuel Bufford in Los Angeles affirmed his own earlier decision to award Smith $475 million from the Marshall estate. He ruled in September that she had been ``deprived of her expectancy of inheritance.''

Smith, a Mexia, Texas, native, wed the wheelchair-bound Marshall in 1994 when she was 26 and he was 89 after they met at the Houston club where she was a stripper. He died 14 months later, but not before promising her half his fortune, Smith said.

Even though Smith has pulled out, the trial will continue because 63-year-old J. Howard Marshall III also is suing Pierce Marshall, his younger brother, on grounds he was wrongfully excluded from the old man's will. Smith, who was 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year, has been subpoenaed to testify in the case.

Pierce Marshall has said his father disinherited his brother because of a family business dispute and that Smith is a gold-digger who took advantage of the elderly tycoon. He has said he would appeal the California ruling.

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