Edelson Says Real Housewife Erika Girardi Received Money From Lion Air Victims

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2017 American Music Awards – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, – Singer and actress Erika Jayne. REUTERS / Danny Molochok

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(Reuters) – Law firm Edelson says financial records of the bankruptcy of famous plaintiffs lawyer Tom Girardi show that Girardi’s ex-wife, reality TV star Erika Girardi, received money embezzled from the victims of the Lion Air crash who were represented by her husband.

Edelson, who acted as local counsel for Girardi in the Lion Air victims’ litigation against Boeing Co, brought the new charge against Erika Girardi in a brief filed Tuesday in Tom Girardi’s Chapter 7 proceeding in federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles.

In the case, the law firm said it reviewed financial records provided by Girardi’s bankruptcy trustee. These records, he said, belied private claims by the trustee’s special litigation advocate that Erika Girardi, singer and star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, had not received money that was owed. to victims of Lion Air.

“Far from ruling out the possibility that Erika received the money from the Lion Air settlement, [the records] showed the opposite: the money that belonged to the widows and orphans who survived the victims of this plane crash had, in fact, been used to make payments for Erika or her businesses, ”the file says.

Erika Girardi’s attorney, Evan Borges of Greenberg Gross, refuted Edelson’s new accusation in an emailed statement. “I have never seen any evidence to support the claim that the Lion Air settlement money received by Girardi Keese was sent by GK to my client,” Borges said. Girardi’s Chapter 7 Alabama bankruptcy laws trustee “never claimed that Erika received the settlement money from Lion Air,” he added. “I don’t know what Edelson is referring to, and he conveniently redacted or blacked out his alleged references in his brief to supposed evidence,” Borges said.

The trustee’s special legal counsel, Ronald Richards of Ronald Richards & Associates, said Edelson’s new claim was unfounded. “They have produced no evidence showing direct payments to Erika or its companies,” he said. “That’s all a big guess stacked up on maybe.”

Edelson first denounced Girardi’s alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars from the families of victims of the Lion Air crash in December. The company filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago, claiming that instead of paying victim settlement money – and co-counseling fees to Edelson – Girardi and his wife were using victims’ money to support a sumptuous facade.

Edelson also alerted the judge overseeing the Lion Air v Boeing litigation. This judge quickly found Tom Girardi and his company in contempt and ordered them to pay more than $ 2 million that had allegedly been diverted from the company’s customers.

Litigation against Tom Girardi and Girardi Keese was put on hold when they were forced into Chapter 7 proceedings in federal bankruptcy court in Los Angeles. Edelson’s partner Jay Edelson and his colleagues have nonetheless sought to continue their investigation of Erika Girardi in their lawsuit against her in Chicago.

In October, Edelson filed a movement in the bankruptcy of Tom Girardi, seeking a ruling that the stay of Alabama bankruptcy laws did not prevent the company from suing Erika Girardi on behalf of the victims of Lion Air. (The firm reiterated that any clawback would go to the victims, not Edelson.)

Erika Girardi’s attorney countered that Edelson had no basis to pursue claims in the Lion Air case. In a News of November 2 in Tom Girardi’s bankruptcy, Erika Girardi’s attorney, Borges, told US judge Barry Russell of Los Angeles that “recently uncovered evidence” revealed “Illinois action is based on agreements sharing of illegal, unethical and unenforceable fees between Edelson and [Girardi Keese]. “

The case alleged that Girardi’s Lion Air customers had not signed the Edelson benchmark agreement, invalidating the cost-sharing agreement at the heart of the Edelson in Illinois case against Tom and Erika Girardi. Bankruptcy trustee attorney Richards tweeted that Erika Girardi’s November 2 case was “a bomb”.

Edelson’s brief on Tuesday argued that Richards had partnered with Erika Girardi’s lawyer in an attempt to shut down Edelson’s investigation, to the detriment of the victims of Lion Air.

This result, according to the record, was bad for everyone: Lion Air customers and all of Tom Girardi and Girardi Keese’s other creditors. “If it is only Edelson who will conduct a legitimate, non-confrontational investigation into the money Erika took – a fact that increasingly appears to be the case – that is all the more reason for the court to uphold it. to the motion “to allow Edelson to continue, despite the suspension of the bankruptcy, the file said.

Richards said in an interview that he has no “backdoor deal” with Erika Girardi, with whom he hopes to reach a voluntary settlement. He said he wants the Erika Girardi investigation to be conducted in the bankruptcies, rather than the Chicago litigation, because he has procedural concerns about Edelson’s right to sue based on the client agreements. allegedly deficient.

“The guy who wears the white hat should have all his ducks in a row before he goes to accuse other people,” Richards said.

Erika Girardi’s lawyer Borges has also denied any collusion with Richards. “Edelson sees monsters in the closet,” he said. “Edelson’s brief in response boils down to a distraction tactic to avoid having to answer for a grossly unethical, illegal and unenforceable fee-sharing agreement between his company and [Girardi Keese]. “

Jay Edelson acknowledged in a Twitter message that Erika Girardi and her attorney did not see the documents supporting her company’s claim in Tuesday’s brief that money from Lion Air customers was paid to her. The specific details are written in the public version of the repository. Edelson called on the bankruptcy trustee to release the financial records – for the benefit of Erika Girardi and the general public hungry for details on this case.

Read more:

The lawyer must wait his turn to prosecute Erika Jayne Girardi, according to the trustee

Tom Girardi and reality TV star’s wife sued for alleged theft of Lion Air settlement funds

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The opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the principles of trust, is committed to respecting integrity, independence and freedom from bias.

Alison Frankel has covered high-stakes commercial litigation as a columnist for Reuters since 2011. A graduate of Dartmouth University, she worked as a reporter in New York covering the legal and law industry for more than three decades. Prior to joining Reuters, she was a writer and editor for The American Lawyer. Frankel is the author of Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World’s Most Valuable Coin.

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