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Old 04-13-07, 10:21 PM
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Stern Sues Anna Nicole Mom's Attorney for Slander

by Natalie Finn
Fri, 13 Apr 2007 07:24:31 PM PDT

Although no custody issues were hammered out Friday in the Bahamas, Howard K. Stern used the downtime to add more fuel to the legal fire that's been blazing out of control since Anna Nicole Smith died suddenly in February.

Stern filed a federal slander lawsuit against attorney John O'Quinn, who represents Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, accusing him of suggesting to reporters that Stern was responsible for Smith's death.

According to court documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach and obtained by the Associated Press, O'Quinn appeared on several national TV shows to discuss the case in the days leading up to the medical examiner's announcement of what killed Smith.

In an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, O'Quinn said that Arthur believed that Stern had murdered her daughter. He also implied on MSNBC that Stern was a little to eager to get a glimpse at Smith's will in the days leading up to her death, the lawsuit states.

"The public airwaves should never be used to promote personal agendas or vendettas," Stern's attorney, L. Lin Wood, said in a statement Friday.

Stern himself was in the Bahamas today, where a custody hearing attended by him, Arthur and confirmed baby daddy Larry Birkhead was adjourned before a ruling could be made. The presiding judge said that he wanted to give Arthur, who is fighting for custody of granddaughter Dannielynn, and Birkhead more time to reach an agreement themselves.

O'Quinn told reporters outside the courthouse that his client and Birkhead would have a face-to-face meeting, just the two of them, on Saturday "to figure out what's in the best interest of the child."

Stern, who is listed as the father on Dannielynn's birth certificate and had been taking care of the infant since her mother died, has said that he will not fight Birkhead for custody and, he said Friday, if it were up to him, he would have given the Los Angeles-based photographer sole custody of Dannielynn that very day.

Smith's longtime lawyer-turned-lover has also said that he will remain in the Bahamas, where Smith and her beloved 20-year-old son Daniel are buried—also the result of a drawn-out legal battle over who deserved custody of Smith's remains.

While it was eventually determined that Smith died of an accidental overdose of prescription medications, including the sleep aid chloral hydrate, all sorts of Kennedy-esque conspiracy theories surfaced as to the cause of her death, including speculation as to whether foul play was involved.

Florida and Bahamian authorities maintained throughout their investigation, however, that they were not approaching Smith's death as a homicide and eventually announced that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on Stern's part.

Stern is seeking unspecified damages from O'Quinn on accusations of slander and invasion of privacy.

TMZ.com reported last week that Stern was on the verge of hooking up with Lin Wood, a defamation case specialist, and was gearing to go after some of the media outlets and reporters who were repeating the theory that Stern was a shady player in Smith's death, accusing him of a variety of unflattering behavior.

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