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Debra Opri, Larry Birkhead
AP file
Anna Nicole Smith’s former boyfriend Larry Birkhead, right, and former attorney Deborah Opri are also locked in a separate court battle over legal bills from the Smith paternity case.
updated 9/26/2007 7:13:44 PM ET 2007-09-26T23:13:44

Larry Birkhead’s ex-lawyer has filed a lawsuit claiming Birkhead attempted to damage her reputation by making defamatory remarks.

Debra Opri’s lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses Birkhead of falsely claiming in a CNN interview with Larry King that she was a source for the book “Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith’s Death.”

The book, written by journalist Rita Cosby, claims Birkhead, the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s 1-year-old daughter, Dannielynn, worked with Howard K. Stern, Smith’s lawyer and companion, to manipulate the media and maximize profits after Smith died.

Opri denies providing information to Cosby. She contends his remarks were “planned and malicious.”

Birkhead’s attorney, Michael Trope, said Tuesday he hadn’t seen the lawsuit, but added that “the truth is a defense.”

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings “What Larry (Birkhead) said about her on the Larry King show is true,” he said.

The lawsuit claims defamation, fraud and other allegations, and seeks damages, including about $200,000 Opri says she spent to hire a crisis management firm to “salvage” her reputation.

Birkhead and Opri also are locked in a separate court battle over legal bills from the Smith paternity case.

In December, a Los Angeles judge ruled in Birkhead’s favor in the paternity case, and a DNA test later revealed that he was the father of Smith’s daughter.

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