Judge to review legal fees for Birkhead

July 13, 2007 at 1:58 PM
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LOS ANGELES, July 13 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles judge granted Larry Birkhead's request to freeze former attorney Debra Opri's client trust account while the court reviews disputed billing.

Superior Court Judge Charles C. Lee said he will rule by Tuesday whether he will order arbitration over Opri's fees for representing Birkhead in his paternity case for the daughter of the late Anna Nicole Smith, E! News reported Thursday.

Opri petitioned for court-ordered arbitration in May, saying Birkhead owed her more than $600,000.

The two parted company before DNA testing proved he, and not Howard K. Stern, Smith's long-time companion listed as the girl's father on the Bahamian birth certificate, was the father of Dannielynn. Smith died in February of an accidental overdose.

In June, Birkhead sued Opri for fraud and legal malpractice, alleging she wrongly was holding $500,000 he was paid as part of a media agreement. He later sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Opri from accessing funds he maintains belongs to him.

Opri is looking "forward to the court's forthcoming final rulings," attorney David Owen said in a statement.

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