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Anna Nicole Smith's former lawyer files suit over book

  • Story Highlights
  • Howard K. Stern's lawsuit seeks $60 million in damages
  • Suit: Book falsely accuses Stern of involvement in deaths of Smith and her son
  • Attempts by CNN to reach the book's author and publisher were unsuccessful
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(CNN) -- The lawyer and companion for former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith has filed a $60 million libel suit against the author and publisher of a new book on Smith's life and death.

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Howard K. Stern, shown in February, claims the book falsely accuses him of homosexual acts and cocaine use.

Howard K. Stern's suit claims the book falsely accuses him of behavior including homosexual acts, illegal possession and use of cocaine and criminal involvement in the deaths of Smith and her son, Daniel.

Stern claims in the suit against Rita Cosby and her publisher, Hachette Book Group USA, that Cosby "intentionally published false and defamatory statements about Stern related to Ms. Smith's death in a calculated effort to increase sales and increase profits" in her book, "Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death."

Stern's attorney, Lin Wood, told CNN the suit seeks $10 million for compensatory damages and $50 million for punitive damages.

Wood said Cosby and her publisher "made a conscious decision to smear the personal and professional reputation of my client, Howard K. Stern, by publishing vicious lies about him. Blonde Ambition is filled with false accusations about Mr. Stern unsupported by any credible or reliable sources.

"Blonde Ambition purports to be a 'tell-all' book, but it can only be accurately described as a 'tell-all-lies' book," Wood said in a statement.

Attempts by CNN to reach Cosby, a former MSNBC anchor, and Hachette Book Group USA on Tuesday night were not immediately successful.

Smith, 39, died February 8 in a Florida hotel room of an accidental drug overdose. Her death sparked a legal battle between Stern and photographer Larry Birkhead over paternity and custody of her infant daughter, Dannielynn.

In addition, the two, along with Smith's estranged mother, Virgie Arthur, fought a legal battle over custody of Smith's body that delayed the former model's burial.

After DNA testing, a Bahamian court declared Birkhead the father of Dannielynn in April. At that point, Stern, who was listed as the girl's father on her birth certificate, said he would not fight for custody.

On CNN's "Larry King Live" September 4, Birkhead also denied the allegations in Cosby's book, which include that he and Stern had an affair -- and that an intimate moment between the two was caught on videotape.

Birkhead said he had instructed his attorney to sue Cosby, the publisher and "any source that spits out some of that false, defamatory information that's in there. If I were Rita Cosby, I'd be very concerned."

He also denied another claim in the book, that he and Stern were working together behind the scenes during the custody battle for Dannielynn or to make money off Smith's death.

Stern claims in the lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, that "defendants have exploited Ms. Smith's life and death by publishing false and defamatory accusations against Howard K. Stern, who was Ms. Smith's longtime lawyer, friend and companion."

The suit claims that Cosby and her publisher had notice that statements in the book were not true before its publication, and that they were warned not to publish those statements by Stern's attorneys.

Cosby made no attempt to contact Stern to verify the allegations, the suit says. Birkhead also said that Cosby never contacted him regarding the allegations. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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