Texas Court of Appeals Affirms Findings in J. Howard Marshall II Probate Litigation

Jul 16, 2015, 09:27 ET from Marshall Family

DALLAS, July 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas has affirmed the outcome of the December 2001 probate trial that found Anna Nicole Smith was not a beneficiary of her late husband's estate and upheld J. Howard Marshall II's well documented estate plan.    

"We are very pleased that the Texas appellate court has affirmed the judgment of the Texas probate court," said G. Eric Brunstad, Jr., attorney for the Marshall family.

This latest decision affirms the resolution in the Texas probate court of J. Howard's estate plan. The probate court rendered its comprehensive judgment after conducting a five-and-one-half month jury trial, during which time the jury considered hundreds of items of evidence and heard the testimony of more than 40 witnesses. This thorough proceeding addressed and resolved all of the issues surrounding J. Howard's intentions.

"Litigation over J. Howard's estate plan has been ongoing for more than two decades and with this judgment should now be laid to rest," said Brunstad.

While the court modified the judgment to eliminate a claim for attorneys' fees held by the estate of the late E. Pierce Marshall, that court noted that the modification should not "be read to endorse or repudiate anyone's view of the scope of the original judgment or judgment as reformed here."

In a decision affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled previously that the comprehensive judgment of the Texas probate court precluded litigation pursued by the late Anna Nicole Smith against J. Howard's son, the late E. Pierce Marshall, for Pierce's alleged tortious interference with a large gift that J. Howard allegedly intended to make to her.

"The basis for the Ninth Circuit's decision, that J. Howard never intended to make a large gift to Anna Nicole Smith as determined by the Texas probate court, is one of the key findings that the Texas appellate court affirmed.

"Because J. Howard never intended to make the gift Anna Nicole Smith claimed, her suit against E. Pierce Marshall is not viable, as the Ninth Circuit determined. The decision of the Texas appellate court thus upholds the basis for the Ninth Circuit's determination," said Brunstad.

Months of testimony in the Texas probate trial showed that E. Pierce Marshall carried out his father's clearly stated wishes memorialized in the estate plan.


SOURCE Marshall Family