Tuesday, May 02, 2006

SCOTUS Delivers Victory to Anna Nicole Smith in Declaring Probate Matters Exception Was No Bar to Her Federal Court Claims

Yesterday the Supreme Court decided Marshall v. Marshall today, in which it held (quoting from BNA's Supreme Court today) that "a federal district court properly asserted jurisdiction over widow Anna Nicole Smith's counterclaim against her deceased husband's son that the son had tortiously interfered with a gift from the husband to his wife." Here is a brief excerpt from the Syllabus:

"(c) Vickie's claim does not involve the administration of an estate, the probate of a will, or any other purely probate matter. Provoked by Pierce's claim in the bankruptcy proceedings, Vickie's claim alleges the widely recognized tort of interference with a gift or inheritance. She seeks an in personam judgment against Pierce, not the probate or annulment of a will. Cf. Sutton v. English, 246 U. S. 199, 208. Nor does she seek to reach a res in a state court's custody. See Markham, 326 U. S., at 494. Furthermore, no "sound policy considerations" militate in favor of extending the probate exception to cover this case. Cf. Ankenbrandt, 504 U. S., at 703. Trial courts, both federal and state, often address conduct of the kind Vickie alleges. State probate courts possess no "special proficiency" in handling such issues. Cf. id., at 704."

The Syllabus of the case can be read from BNA's Supreme Court Today here.


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