Anna Nicole’s “Baby Daddy” Sues Former Attorney

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New York—Larry Birkhead, who recently entered the tabloid spotlight as the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s daughter, Dannielynn, has been back in court, this time accusing his former attorney of false promises, a faked record of family law practice, and unfair dealings.

Debra Opri, who represented Birkhead in his paternity suit against Smith, also negotiated a contract with NBC Universal for Birkhead to participate in some reality-television programs on Bravo. Opri allegedly took over $800,000 of the $1 million paid to him by NBC and deposited it into a trust account, without Birkhead’s permission. She later paid him $200,000 of that money.

Birkhead fired Opri in March 2007, shortly after she had refused his request to release the remaining money from the trust account. She then sent him a legal bill totaling 40 pages and claiming that he owed her $620,492 – nearly as much as the amount she was allegedly keeping in the trust.

Despite Birkhead’s request that Opri not attend Smith’s funeral, which was held in the Bahamas, Orpi billed approximately 30 hours over a three-day span, including the funeral service itself and travel time to and from the islands. She also billed for over $130,000 worth of cell phone calls, as well as dinners out, car services, and even laundry expenses.

Sources say that Opri’s bill, which included 82 pages of supporting documents, nevertheless failed to include pertinent information – such as the names or telephone numbers of the people to whom she made all the cell calls.

She sought to have the dispute arbitrated, desiring to keep it out of court and therefore out of the public domain. But earlier his month, a California appellate court upheld the ruling by a lower court that her agreement with Birkhead has no clause allowing for arbitration. The case is pending in L.A.’s Superior Court, and will enter the discovery and deposition phases soon. It may go to trial. In the meantime, a judge issues a restraining order to protect the disputed money in the attorney-client trust fund.

Opri has filed a cross-complaint against Birkhead for defamation.

 

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