Legendary Trial Lawyer Tom Girardi Self Destructs
December 24, 2020
by Elliot Ganezer
They got married when he was 60 and she was 28. They seemed to be the most enviable of LA May December romances. He was loaded, she was cunning and stunning, and together, their fame just multiplied. Now they're in divorce court, and he's facing involuntary bankruptcy, not to mention dementia.
Thomas Girardi, the 81 year old legendary plaintiff's attorney, has fallen on very hard times. In a notable case against Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility company agreed to pay $460 million to 650 residents of the desert community of Hinkley, California. The residents blamed incidents of cancer and other diseases on contaminated water leaked from a gas pumping station.
This case was the inspiration for the film Erin Brockovich (2000) starring Julia Roberts. "That particular case revolutionized people's thinking about all the toxic things they are exposed to," he told Attorney at Law magazine. Girardi also served as an adviser on the film. In 2003, he received the honor of being inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame by the California State Bar. According to his website, which is now off-line, he is a Member of the Board of Directors and former President of the prestigious International Academy of Trial Lawyers, an invitation-only worldwide organization, limited to 500 trial lawyers.
Girardi is also the first trial lawyer to be appointed to the California Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the state courts. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Girardi
Despite the acclaim Girardi finds himself in major legal trouble. A federal judge has frozen Girardi's, and his firm's, assets holding that that they "misappropriated at least $2 million in client funds that were due to the families of those killed" by the Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia in 2018.
Per the order of U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin of Chicago. Durkin further condemned Girardi's conduct as "unconscionable. " "No matter what your personal financial situation is, no matter what kind of pressures you are under, if you touch client money, you are going to be disbarred and quite possibly charged criminally," the judge said. Durkin referred the issue to federal prosecutors for criminal investigation according to the Los Angeles Times. In court documents filed on Monday, Girardi's lawyers said the 81-year-old was "unavailable due to a serious illness that caused him to be hospitalized for which he sought treatment."
Girardi and his wife, actress Erika Jayne, star of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," are in the midst of a divorce. However, some claim that the divorce is a scam in order to hide their involvement with the embezzlement. Edelson PC, a class action firm out of Chicago, claims their split is a "sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom and Erika's money," according to court papers. The filing also alleges the pair "are on the verge of financial collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds."
In more bad news a judgement against Girardi for $11 million was recently uncovered.
Per Allisun of realitytea.com, in June 2019, one of the victims Tom represented sued him for withholding money in the winning settlement. Joseph Ruigomez was burned over 90 percent of his body in the fire and his girlfriend died. Lawyers for Joseph and his family named both Tom and Girardi Keese in the dispute. The suit claimed breach of contract for "not paying Ruigomez and his family the remaining balance from the original PG&E settlement".
Yesterday, Twitter user Ronald Richard wrote, "Another $11,000,000 judgment against Thomas Girardi was just uncovered. These are victims of the Pacific Gas and Electric explosion. This goes back to June of 2019! Complaint face page and writ attached." You can see the documents here and here. So, now it looks like Tom ALLEGEDLY withheld funds from plane crash victims and fire victims. Why is this important? Because it originally went down over 10 years ago and Big Tommy's defense wants him nice and mentally incapacitated in an effort to explain why the Lion Air crash families were "mistakenly" not given their money. Because it "mistakenly" found its way into Erika's business account. ALLEGEDLY.
This promises to get even uglier.
While doing contract support work for many attorneys years ago in the 1990s, I discovered more than a few personal injury and other attorneys kept far more than their 33% + costs from client's settlement checks. In other cases, I discovered that they grossly understated the settlement amounts and kept more than half the client's check from the insurance companies or other paying entity. The only way to prevent this is for clients to demand a copy of the checks sent to their lawyers.
07/08/2021, 11:48 am