SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ Anna Nicole Smith was awarded more than $88 million in a ruling that determined the former Playboy Playmate had a reasonable expectation she would receive part of her late husband's estate without interference from her stepson.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter wrote in his ruling that Howard Marshall II's son, E. Pierce Marshall, and others spied on the couple and controlled his father's access to money to deny Smith what she was promised.
``The evidence of willfulness, maliciousness and fraud is overwhelming,'' said the ruling, which was released on Thursday.
Carter said in his ruling that Smith was entitled to $44.3 million in punitive damages and the same amount in compensatory damages against E. Pierce Marshall, who controls the trust established by his late father.
``This is a complete victory for my client, and I think it's a victory for a husband's love for his wife,'' said Smith's attorney, Philip Boesch.
E. Pierce Marshall said his father ``would be appalled that the district court continued to ignore his clearly stated wishes.'' He planned to appeal.
The ruling came after E. Pierce Marshall challenged a federal bankruptcy court decision awarding Smith $475 million of the oil tycoon's money.
Smith, 33, has fought lengthy court battles in California and Texas over her late husband's fortune. He died at age 90 in August 1995, 14 months after they wed.
The former Playboy Playmate, whose real name is Vickie Lynn Marshall, met her husband in 1991 when she was working as a stripper. The couple married three years later when she was 26 and he was 89.
Before his death, his estate went into a trust that divided his fortune among charities, a foundation, his son and other individuals, but gave nothing to Smith or his other son, J. Howard Marshall III.
Marshall and Smith were absent when the ruling was issued.