Court Ruling Ends 20-Year Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle

On Tuesday, a Texas appellate court likely closed the infamous 20-year dispute between the estate of J. Howard Marshall II and the late Anna Nicole Smith.

The decision, made by the First Court of Appeals, relieves the one-time Playboy Playmate’s estate of over $500,000 in sanctions she was ordered to pay her former son-in-law, E. Pierce Marshall, for filing a frivolous challenge to her deceased husband’s will. It comes 20 years after Marshall’s death and more than eight years after Smith’s death. Anna Nicole’s notability particularly grew during the prolonged court battle over Marshall’s estate, which prompted speculation she had married the investor for his money – claims she always denied.

The ruling also looks to have infinitely ended a complex legal struggle involving litigation in multiple states and two trips to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeals court dismissed the sanctions against Anna Nicole Smith, stating Pierce Marshall had the onus of attaining a jury verdict on the amount of fees due, but the probate court simply set the amount without reason. The Court opinion regarding this case can be found here.

With the apparent end to this notoriously lengthy estate dispute, the importance of a properly crafted will cannot be emphasized enough. Contacting a Phoenix estate planning lawyer is your first step to ensuring your estate is distributed exactly the way you want after your death.      

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Tarheel Q Over Salmonella Outbreak

On July 10, 2015, food poisoning lawyer Ron Simon of Houston-based food safety law firm, Ron Simon & Associates, filed a wrongful death lawsuit originating from Salmonella-contaminated food served at the Tarheel Q restaurant in Lexington, North Carolina.

Along with local counsel Martin & Van Hoy, LLP, attorney Ron Simon filed the lawsuit against the restaurant on behalf of the Estate of George Allen. Mr. Allen dined at Tarheel Q on June 16th and fell ill the following days. On June 23rd, doctors admitted him to Davis Regional Medical Center, where he tested positive for Salmonella. A few days after his admission, Mr. Allen’s condition improved, but on June 26th, his health took a devastating turn for the worse and he began to experience renal failure. His condition rapidly deteriorated and on June 27th, he passed away from acute renal failure due to Salmonella poisoning. Mr. Allen was 94 years old at the time of his death.

As of July 13, 2015, 276 cases of illness associated with eating food from Tarheel Q have been identified. Updates on the outbreak can be found on the NC Department of Health and Human Services website. To date, George Allen is the only confirmed death related to the Tarheel Q Salmonella outbreak.

Salmonella attorney Ron Simon and his law firm have established a Tarheel Q Salmonella Claims Center to assist victims of the outbreak. The Claims Center can be reached toll-free at 1 (888) 335-4901.

How to Plan for Divorce in Arizona

Going through a divorce is never easy and no amount of preparation can change that.  However, a tactical approach to the process, especially in regards to your finances, can help mitigate some of the damage and keep you on your feet.

Before the petition for dissolution is signed, you can start taking steps towards financial independence.  Phoenix divorce attorney DeeAn Gillespie offers these tips to prepare financially for a divorce.

1. Set up your own bank account.

Open a new bank account in your name only.  This will be an account that your spouse cannot access. Under Arizona’s marital property laws, you may take your half of the marital community’s cash and direct deposit that amount into your new bank account.


2. Open your own credit card account.

Open a new credit card account in your name only. Use the new card with restraint and pay off charges every month to help establish and raise your personal credit score. Next, consider canceling any credit cards or charge cards that are no longer in use, but are in both your names.


3. Prepare your complete financial picture.

You must provide a complete family financial picture for the divorce, so make copies of documents going back at least 12 months.  When going through them, if you are unsure about whether it is important, copy it anyway.  It is far better to have too much info than not enough.  Also, if you play to leave the marital residence, be sure to make copies of everything BEFORE you leave the home.  You may not have an opportunity to do it once you have left.

Here is a (general, not comprehensive) checklist of the financial documents you should copy for your case:

  •  Pay stubs and income verifications
  •  State and federal tax returns for the prior three reporting years
  •  Vehicle certificates of title and any loans thereon
  •  Real property and any mortgages, deeds of trust, or land contracts thereon
  •  Credit card and charge card accounts
  •  Insurance policies (note beneficiary designations)
  •  Investment accounts
  •  Pension and retirement accounts
  •  Bank and credit union accounts
  •  Business operations records

Prepare a new budget that accurately reflects your new living costs and – if you have children – your anticipated child related expenditures.  Be sure to keep all this information secure and safe.

4. Take precautions to protect your privacy and security.

Change the passwords on all of your financial accounts. Change all of your existing email account passwords, too. (But save any emails from your spouse or from others that are relevant to your divorce.) For privileged communications with your attorney, and there will be many as email is an extremely important method of communication during a divorce, open a new secure email account in your name only. If at any time you suspect your spouse of having acquired your password, then change it immediately and notify your attorney of the possible privacy breach.

Be extremely wary of your social media activity.  Anything that you say can be used against you.  In fact, one third of divorce cases mention the word Facebook at some point.  If you can’t trust yourself on social media channels, just stay off them.


5. Prepare for custody of your children.

Both spouses need to create a detailed parenting plan for you and your children.  Create a journal that chronicles your kids and your parenting activity on a daily weekly, and monthly basis.  You need to decide who the kids will live with. Will you share custody with their mother? How often will they be visited by the non-custodial parent? How will the children’s expenses be paid? Decisions must also be made over their healthcare, education, religion, and welfare.

If you do not plan to seek primary custody, then focus on maximizing your parenting time and staying involved with your children.



6. Prepare an inventory of all your personal property.

When going through a divorce, you must take inventory of all your personal property.  The easiest way to do this is to go room by room and take photos and create a list.  Be sure to mark whether the property is community or separate.  Sometimes people do irrational things to others property during divorce, so take items you deem as irreplaceable – i.e. family photos, heirlooms, or keepsakes – with you and put them in a secure location.  Be sure to take photos and make notes of where they are.


7. Prepare your contact list of important people.

Get involved – if you aren’t already – in your children’s lives.  Create a list of people involved in their day to day lives such as friends and their parents, teachers, advisors, coaches, babysitters, ect.  Make a list of their names, roles, and contact information.  While you are at it, do the same for all the people involved in your family and financial life like accountants, family members, neighbors, and insurance agents.

Taking these steps can greatly reduce the financial impact of a divorce.  Couple these strategies with asking the right questions when hiring an attorney and you will put yourself ahead of the proverbial curve in your divorce.



tony o'dellTony O’Dell is an established personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer in West Virginia with 20 years of experience helping his clients work through some of the most difficult times in their lives. As an accomplished trial attorney, Tony prides himself in providing aggressive and diligent representation to his clients while also ensuring he understands their needs. He has handled multi-million dollar cases involving auto and trucking accidents, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and nursing home negligence. Helping protect West Virginia’s communities by holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions makes Tony exceptionally proud of what he does.

Tony received his bachelor’s degree in Business from Marshall University and in 1991, he obtained his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. Later that year, he was admitted to practice law in West Virginia’s state and federal courts.

Since earning his law degree, Tony has been awarded numerous prestigious accolades including his induction into the West Virginia Super Lawyers and recognition as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association. Additionally, Tony was named The Best Attorney in the Valley for three years by readers of West Virginia’s largest circulation newspaper, the Charleston Gazette.

Currently, Tony is a member of both the American Association for Justice and the West Virginia Association for Justice, where he holds a seat on the Board of Governors. He is also a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the American Bar Association.

Because of his reputation and experience, other attorneys consistently refer to Tony for cases that are too expensive or complicated for them to handle on their own.

“A referral is the highest compliment and one we don’t take for granted. We have earned that compliment time and time again.”

If you need assistance from a knowledgeable and dedicated West Virginia personal injury lawyer, contact Tiano O’Dell today for a free case evaluation.

Tiano O’Dell, PLLC
118 Capitol Street
Charleston, WV 25301
(304) 720-6700

Millions Recovered For Victim of NuC02 Truck Accident

On June 3, 2015, the San Bernardino personal injury attorneys at Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, obtained a $17,393,479.87 jury verdict for a young man who suffered severe injuries after being involved in a six-vehicle collision caused by a negligently driven NuCO2 truck.

This is reportedly the highest amount ever awarded by a jury in the North County Division of the San Diego Superior Court.

Russell Sheaffer, who was 24-year old at the time,was driving his Toyota when a 35,000-pound Freightliner truck driven by a NuCO2 employee slammed into a row of five stopped vehicles on Interstate 15.  The truck was traveling at freeway speeds, and Mr. Sheaffer’s stopped car, the third of the five, was hit with so much force that his car propelled into the SUV in front of him.

Mr. Sheaffer sustained facial fractures along his jaw, an imploded sinus and a minor traumatic brain injury.  He underwent two major surgeries, and after a year of doctor’s visits, CT scans and 3-D modeling of Mr. Sheaffer’s jaw revealed a traumatically induced, rapidly progressing, degenerative joint disease of the temporomandibular joints.

Although NcCO2 admitted liability for the accident, it denied that Mr. Sheaffer suffered the long term damages or pain and suffering that he claimed.  The jury chose to awarded Mr. Sheaffer $12,500,000 for past and future pain and suffering, $2,888,373 for past and future medical expenses, and $2,005,107 for past and future loss of earnings.

In 2012 alone, 3,802 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, a 5% increase from 2011- according to the truck accident attorney team at PS&B.


whit drake

Whit Drake is a personal injury lawyer based in Birmingham, AL. He heads his practice, Drake Law Firm, along with his wife Katherine Drake. The attorneys aim to provide clients with the most effective legal representation using their extensive knowledge and expertise in the field. They have successfully recovered over $100 million in settlements and have concluded over 1,000 cases in the past 10 years – with close to a 99% success rate. Whit served on the lead counsel for one of the largest wrongful death cases in the history of Alabama.

In addition to being voted by his peers as a leading Birmingham personal injury attorney in Birmingham Magazine’s March 2012 issue, Whit was also a Top Rated personal injury lawyer in Birmingham’s Metro Magazine.

Whit received his undergraduate degree in General Studies and History from the University of Alabama in 1986. He then received his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1989. He has practiced as an injury attorney for 23 years and established his own firm in 1998.

Whit’s published works have been included in The Alabama Lawyer and discuss topics such as effective case resolution and employer’s subrogation.

Currently, Whit is a member of both the Alabama Bar Association and the Birmingham Bar Association.

Birmingham personal injury lawyer Whit Drake is dedicated to helping clients receive the financial compensation they deserve due to someone else’s damages.

“Most of our clients come to us by referral from satisfied clients and other legal professionals. We even have clients referred to us by insurance lawyers who opposed us in court. We think that says a lot about our commitment to integrity and maintaining an open line of communication with our clients throughout the case.”

If you need assistance from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Birmingham, contact Drake Law Firm today for a free consultation.

Drake Law Firm

2 Perimeter Park South #510E

Birmingham, AL 35243