Trials & Litigation

Lawsuit accuses lawyer and his ‘Real Housewives’ wife of stealing plane crash settlement funds

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Lawyer Tom Girardi and his celebrity wife, Erika Jayne of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, are accused in a lawsuit of embezzling settlement money as they struggle to bolster their celebrity image of “obscene wealth.”

The Dec. 2 suit, filed by the Edelson law firm, contends that Girardi and his Los Angeles law firm are “locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds,” putting them on the verge of financial collapse.

To continue funding his and Jayne’s “lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles,” the suit alleges, Girardi resorted to embezzling settlement proceeds intended for widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the October 2018 crash of a Boeing 737 Max. All 189 people aboard Indonesia’s Lion Air Flight 610 died in the incident.

Boeing agreed to a settlement in early 2020. Edelson was local counsel in the litigation and settlement process, and it is also owed money, according to the suit, filed in federal court in Chicago.

The suit notes that Jayne filed for divorce this month but alleges that it is “a sham attempt” to protect the couple’s money. The suit also says Girardi has taken “massive litigation loans,” and he is apparently using settlement money to pay them down. Two litigation funders are among the defendants.

The suit seeks an accounting of the funds, the transfer of funds to the appropriate recipients, and, after the money is paid, the payment of contractually required attorney fees to Edelson.

Publications covering the suit include, Thomson Reuters, the Chicago Sun-Times and Law360.

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