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Former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith won a victory in federal court as a bankruptcy judge voided a Texas court’s decision that had declared her ineligible for a $474 million inheritance. Judge Samuel Bufford of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California agreed Tuesday with Smith’s claim that the Texas judgment violated federal laws, said Philip Boesch, an attorney representing Smith. Smith has been battling in the courts for the right to claim an inheritance from her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II. His son, E. Pierce Marshall, has argued that Smith has no claim to the oil tycoon’s estate. In December, Bufford finalized a previous ruling awarding Smith $474 million from the estate. E. Pierce Marshall then filed new claims in Texas, and a jury found that Smith had no claim to the estate. Tuesday’s ruling voided that decision. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana, Calif., has scheduled a hearing for December in which Smith and Marshall must testify before a final decision is made on the award. Because of Tuesday’s ruling, “the federal court jurisdiction will proceed and the appeals process will proceed in California,” Boesch said. David Margulies, a spokesman for Marshall, said Tuesday that the bankruptcy court’s ruling did not address the Texas court’s finding that Smith has no right to the estate. Smith, 33, met her former husband in 1991 when she was dancing at a Houston strip club. They married in 1994, and he died the following year at age 90. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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