Erika Girardi, one of the more colorful Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, has agreed to the transfer of unresolved lawsuits from her estranged husband’s troubled law firm, Girardi & Keese after it was forced into involuntary bankruptcy proceedings by six creditors.
Among the 150 cases to be transferred include 52 transvaginal mesh (TVM) cases and approximately 100 National Football League (NFL) concussion cases.
The Los Angeles-based law firm, Girardi Keese (GK), is alleged to have embezzled client settlement funds, including $2 million intended for at least four families of those lost in the 2018 Lion Air 610 crash. Another at least $15 million is reported to be missing. The firm is being liquidated to pay back clients.
The firm’s founder, Tom, estranged husband of Erika, is reported to be in mental decline.
Goldberg, Persky & White will receive the NFL cases while 52 TVM cases will go to Nadrich & Cohen and The Oshman Firm.
Erika Girardi, a cast member of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, is a songstress performer, who travels with a $40,000 a month budget for a “glam squad” and for clothing.
“It’s expensive to be me/ Looking this good don’t come for free.” ~ Erika Jayne, “XXpen$ive”
Erika Jayne, as she is known, is being investigated for allegedly receiving about $20 million in funds and luxury items such as jewelry from Girardi Keese, transferred allegedly to hide from creditors. Erika and her business, EJ Global, LLC and Pretty Mess, Inc. should pay back $25 million to Girardi Keese, according to a filing by the bankruptcy trustee. The bankruptcy judge is allowing clients to recover funds from Ericka Jayne.
Ericka filed for divorce one month before the bankruptcy filing.
Girardi & Keese was the law firm introduced in the film, Erin Brockovich, that exposed Pacific Gas & Electric’s contamination of the water supply of Hinkley, California from a PG&E gas pumping station. Tom Girardi was portrayed by actor, Peter Coyote, and Tom was an adviser for the film.
In a document dated October 25, 2013, Girardi & Keese, and two other law firms, filed an amended complaint against Boston Scientific (initially filed against defendant American Medical Systems, Inc.) on behalf of 66 women.
[See: Girardi Keese, Arnold & Itkin, and the Mostyn Law Firm in Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Shannon Muller et al vs. American Medical Systems Inc. Case No. BC515042]
The complaint asks for compensation for pain and suffering and lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and compensation for disfigurement, physical impairment, mental anguish, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and court costs. The court shows the cases were dismissed in June 2019.
Laura Smith (not her real name since she’s involved in litigation) tells Mesh News Desk she was impressed by the firm’s association with the Brockovich case and that was a deciding factor in hiring them for representation in her case against American Medical Systems (AMS). Since she was originally filed in Delaware in 2012, the firm promised she would be transferred to multidistrict litigation (MDL) in West Virginia.
Her case never was.
Upon learning that in April 2019 AMS had transferred settlement funds to Girardi Keese, she began calling the firm to see when she could expect her settlement.
“They had excuse after excuse, I knew something was up because lawyers were leaving left and right. I thought that’s not a good sign.”
Eventually, she pursued the issue through her original firm in Delaware. There an attorney tracked down the AMS transfer and led Smith to find resolution through the California Bar’s Client Security Fund.
“Every state has one to track down funds that have been embezzled,” says Smith. “Every client will be able to get their money owed them through CSF,” she adds.
Since her retainer agreement with Girardi Keese had no mention of the common benefit fund (a 5% off the top which reimburses law firms), Smith says she will not have to pay it or her attorney fees amounting to $26,000. Except for $2,000 paid to insurance, she should reclaim most of her high five-figure settlement.
Smith blames the California Bar Association for failing to discipline law firms. She encourages everyone to contact the Client Security Fund of California, where Girardi Keese is licensed, to pursue their settlement dollars.
“I feel like somebody took from you and there is a feeling of heaviness and sadness. You think 24/7 why did so many let it happen? There has to be more that can be done besides filing with the state bar and recoup the money.”
Smith is considering filing a legal malpractice claim against the California law firm.
June 1, 2021, US Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, Los Angeles
June 24, 2021, Bankruptcy court Motion to employ the law offices of Ronald Richards
National Law Review, July 20, 2021