We aren’t big fans of celebrity reality shows. That includes Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. The show is hugely popular, however, and we think that is because it is human nature to see how the successful live. We also think there is also a fair amount of envy going on. We all want to be successful.
In the case of celebrity housewife Erika Jayne and her husband lawyer Thomas Girardi, there may not be much to envy. A lawsuit filed by another law firm claims that the Girardi’s are in dire financial straits and that Thomas Girardi has been embezzling money from his own clients to support the couple’s lifestyle.
According to the complaint,
“Tom Girardi (“Tom” or “Girardi”) and his law firm Girardi Keese (“GK”) are on the verge of financial collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds. They presently owe tens of millions of dollars to clients, lenders, co-counsel, settlement administrators, and experts, to name only a few, and have tried in vain to forestall the payment of these debts with hollow promises, excuses, misdirection, and outright fraud.
“At the heart of this deception is Defendant Girardi and his need to fund outrageous lifestyles for himself and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Erika Jayne (“Erika” or “Jayne”). Tom and Erika have reached celebrity status in the glitz-and-glam world of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Tom is a well-known and powerful personal injury attorney. Erika is a performer who is perhaps better known for her years-long presence on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a show centered on the larger-than-life extravagances of its cast members. To keep up their celebrity status, Tom and Erika must project a public image of obscene wealth at all times, and at whatever the cost.
“As a result, and most egregiously, Tom has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients—including, as the basis for this Complaint, the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610—in order to continue funding his and Erika’s lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles.
“While Erika publicly filed for divorce this month, on information and belief, that “divorce” is simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom’s and Erika’s money from those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom and his law firm GK. This would not be the first attempt by Tom to hide and divert assets. Indeed, in a likely violation of the California Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 3439), Defendant Jayne’s company, Defendant EJ Global, has allegedly received tens of millions in “loans” directly from Defendant GK, of which Tom is the sole equity shareholder.
“Tom’s downward spiral appears to have finally bottomed out. On information and belief, Tom’s mounting loans and debt have piled up to such an extent that GK can no longer meet its financial obligations and it is likely that GK will soon not be a going concern. But Tom’s litigation financers and other creditors (including Erika) are not the ones who stand to lose the most from the fall of GK. Instead, it’s the Lion Air clients (and potentially other clients) who stand to lose everything. That’s because, on information and belief, Tom has embezzled and redirected the funds that were due the Lion Air clients (and of lesser importance, Plaintiff Edelson) to his family members, friends, and his and GK’s lenders and other creditors.”
If true, those allegations are extremely serious. We are especially concerned since the person filing the lawsuit is a law firm intimately familiar with the Girardi and his business dealings.
Girardi Keese, the firm run by Girardi, has the slogan “We treat our client like family.” Since when did it become acceptable to steal millions from family?
The case began with the crash of Lion Air flight 610 which crashed in October 2018. For those who don’t remember, 189 people died in the crash. The plane involved in the tragic accident was a Boeing 737 Max. That crash ultimately resulted in the entire fleet of Boeing 737 Max aircraft being grounded worldwide.
Many of the families that lost loved ones hired Tom Girardi and his law firm. Edelson was the local counsel for the lawsuit. Edelson says that Boeing settled the suit and paid the settlement money to the Girardi’s law firm back in February 2020. They say, however, that much of that money never made it to the families of the victims. That is why Edelson sued.
Where did the money go? That is the question! According to Edelson, “Girardi has instead kept it for his own purposes and doled it out to his friends and family, all the while evading attempts by the clients to gain access to it…. In a Madoff-inspired attempt to protect his own wealth and appease his aggressive and well-heeled lenders, on information and belief, Girardi has in fact used client settlement funds, including money owed to the families of the victims of Lion Air Flight 610, to pay down loans, leaving the clients with little, if anything.”
If the allegations are true, the families of the crash victims may have a difficult time getting paid. Legal malpractice insurance typically doesn’t cover theft or other criminal acts by lawyers. For example, if your lawyer misses a filing deadline and you suffer harm, that is malpractice and the losses should be covered by insurance. If that same lawyer simply steals settlement monies the behavior is criminal and not covered by insurance.
To date, much of the media has predictably centered on the Girardi’s divorce. As recently as last month, Fox News was claiming the parties were $30 million. If Edelson is correct, the couple is mired in deep debt and on the verge of ruin.
How does this effect Erica Jayne, Tom’s wife?
If Edelson is correct, the divorce is merely a sham to divert assets away from the law firm’s clients. Unfortunately, there are few details in the complaint that outline Jayne’s involvement.
What is made obvious in the complaint is the way the couple spent money. Edelson says Erika Jayne spends $40,000 per month just to maintain her look. The couple also reportedly has two private jets. When asked why they needed two, Erika said, “Because one is small and one is big!” She also reportedly bought Tom a $5,000 toilet.
If the matter gets to a jury, jurors surely aren’t going to be impressed with Erika Jayne’s music videos, “How Many F*cks” and “It’s Expensive to Be Me.” The latter appears at the end of this post.
We began this post by noting that celebrity reality TV shows are popular because many people envy those who are successful. If the allegations in the complaint are true – and we certainly believe they are – any “success” enjoyed by the Girardi’s came from money stolen from the victims of a horrific plane crash.
Are You the Victim of Legal Malpractice?
We don’t know if the victims of the Lion Air disaster will ever be paid. We certainly hope they are. Lawyers that steal are thankfully rare. If the allegations in the lawsuit are true, there likely is no malpractice insurance available and collecting from a couple deeply in debt is difficult. Last we checked, a used $5000 toilet probably isn’t worth much. And getting back the millions of dollars spent on makeup and cross country flights by private jets? That money is gone too.
Our practice of suing lawyers centers on those that commit legal malpractice, not criminal theft. (If you are the victim of theft, most states have a lawyer’s security fund that can reimburse some or all of your losses. We also recommend that if you believe you are a victim of theft that you file an ethics complaint with the state bar or state supreme court. Lawyers that steal or are dishonest with clients can be disbarred.)
If you think you are the victim of malpractice we can help. Many lawyers won’t sue other lawyers. Often one must go out of town to find someone willing to sue. That is why we consider legal malpractice cases anywhere in the United States.
To learn more, visit our legal malpractice information page. Ready to see if you have a claim? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone 877.858.8018.
All inquiries protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept strictly confidential. We consider cases where the loss is $500,000 or more. If we can’t help you, we may be able to find someone who can.