In the drama that is still the Anna Nicole Smith saga, one can’t really be surprised by anything anymore. Howard K Stern has sex with ocean mammals? Fine. Virgie Arthur is actually a pair of conjoined twins with only one visible head? Totally cool. Dannielynn’s already getting $200,000 legal bills? Well of course. The wee one’s trust fund is being charged that preposterous amount by her guardian ad litem Richard Milstein. Milstein worked for Dannielynn for about 2 – 3 weeks (depending on who you ask). He represented her interests in the Florida court after Anna Nicole Smith died, and eventually won custody of Anna Nicole’s body, since Dannielynn was ruled to be the closest relative. But since she was a baby, that meant her guardian ad litem got to choose where Smith was buried. He seemed to do a good job, and chose to have Smith buried next to her also recently deceased son Daniel in the Bahamas.
Case closed, right? Well not so much, because it seems that Milstein wants to be compensated about $200,000 for his work. He says it took not just him but five members of his office to do all the work required in the case, and that they had to devote themselves entirely to it, including travel to and from the Bahamas. That’s basically billing $900 an hour for legal work she never was able to request. Unless sucking on a binky is some type of indication one way or the other, and I just don’t know it.
“‘It’s outrageous,’ said Larry Birkhead’s attorney Nancy Hass, who along with a lawyer for Howard K. Stern has filed a complaint in Broward County objecting to the request. ‘I’m a guardian ad litem, too, and I always reduce my fees when I deal with children,’ Hass told the Palm Beach Post Monday. ‘A lot of work produced [by Milstein] was unnecessary.’ Milstein, who won custody of Smith’s body and adhered to the late model’s unwritten wish to be buried in the Bahamas next to her son Daniel, maintains that his request is more than fair.
“‘This representation required the guardian ad litem to devote significantly all of his professional and personal time and attention to the interests of Dannielynn for a period in excess of two weeks,’ he states in his petition. ‘The three weeks of work entailed the work of five people, not just myself, in order to handle the multiple details involved in handling the trial and funeral arrangements,’ Milstein wrote in an email to the Post. Echoed Robert Zinn, president of Milstein’s firm, Akerman Senterfitt: ‘We believe there is no basis whatsoever for the objections to our invoices, given the complexity of the issues, the large number of interested parties and the extremely short time.’
“‘That’s $900 an hour,’ [Krista] Barth [Hass and Stern's attorney] told the Post. ‘People believe the baby is rich. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Mr. Milstein even charged for another lawyer at his firm to go to Anna’s funeral.’ Although Dannielynn stands to inherit up to $500 million if the decade-long battle between Smith’s estate and that estate of her late husband, billionaire tycoon J. Howard Marshall II, is decided in Smith’s favor, the reality-TV star was worth only about $710,000 when she died.”
[From E! News]
When Barth and Hass responded to Milstein’s bill in an official complaint, they also suggested that Virgie Arthur should be responsible for part of Milstein’s bill, since she’s the one who initiated the legal proceedings over custody of Smith’s body. Her lawyer, Stephen Tunstall, said that was ridiculous, but he agreed that Milstein’s bill was excessive. I would love it if Arthur had to pay some of that bill. Any decent mother knows her daughter should be buried next to her grandson. Why would a good mother try to prevent that? Because the crazy lady wants money and attention. I think it’d be a little bit of justice if Arthur had to fork over the cash, instead of Dannielynn.