‘Real Housewives’ star Erika Jayne wins Tom Girardi fraud lawsuit
“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne won her legal battle this week against former colleagues of her estranged husband (famed attorney Tom Girardi) who sued her for fraud in 2020, Jayne’s attorney confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
L.A. County Judge Richard Fruin found no evidence Monday of wrongdoing on Jayne’s part after attorneys Philip R. Sheldon and Robert P. Finn accused her in a $5-million lawsuit of aiding and abetting her husband. In March, the State Bar of California filed discipline charges against Girardi, 83, who allegedly misappropriated millions in client funds while practicing law.
Per court documents obtained by The Times, Fruin ruled that Sheldon and Finn could not prove that Jayne, 51, was aware Girardi was using their share of settlement money to support the couple’s luxurious lifestyle. The judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument and exhibits — including Jayne’s income and expense schedule — as an “irrelevant” combination of “inference” and “circumstantial evidence.”
In the midst of an affair with Tom Girardi, appellate justice Tricia Bigelow received $300,000 from a client trust account at his law firm
Additionally, Fruin determined that neither Jayne nor Girardi owed the plaintiffs any fiduciary duties, defined by Cornell Law School as an obligation to “act in a way that will benefit someone else, usually financially.”
Ronald Richards, an attorney representing Sheldon and Finn, told The Times on Thursday that Fruin “wrongly focused” on corrupt activity that wasn’t central to their case, allegedly leading to a “discrepancy” in the judge’s ruling.
In a statement, Richards vowed to appeal the verdict and “show that Tom Girardi had a fiduciary duty to third parties who were expecting money from this Trust Account.”
“Erika aided and abetted a breach of that fiduciary duty by receiving $25,000,000 to her solely owned company EJ Global LLC,” Richards added. “Erika did nothing to examine the source of the millions she received and blindly signed loans and tax documents to her detriment.”
Richards emphasized that EJ Global — Jayne’s company that allegedly received $25 million from Girardi’s firm — “is still a defendant and will stand trial,” as will Girardi’s former associate, David Lira.
“There is a dispute over what constitutes actual knowledge. We contend it could be proven by willful blindness and actual knowledge can be inferred,” Richards said.
“The judge wanted an admission by Erika,” he continued. ”... This is a standard no one could meet absent an admission by Erika, [who] denies knowledge. [Jayne] still has much more damaging and easier to prove lawsuits facing her.”
Meanwhile, Jayne’s lawyer said in a statement provided to The Times that he and his client were “gratified that based on a review of actual evidence by a court of law, Erika has been exonerated.”
Tom Girardi is facing the collapse of everything he holds dear: his law firm, marriage to Erika Girardi, and reputation as a champion for the downtrodden.
“We expect that other ‘aiding and abetting’ lawsuits against Erika, which accuse her of participating in some sort of ‘fraud,’ will fail for the same reason — they are contrary to the truth and based on no real evidence,” Jayne‘s attorney Evan C. Borges added.
Jayne also celebrated her legal victory Wednesday on Instagram, writing: “Thank you to my friends that have stood beside me. All I asked for was time and understanding.”
In November 2020, Jayne filed for divorce after 21 years of marriage to Girardi, who was disbarred earlier this year and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. On Wednesday, The Times reported that Girardi wired $300,000 worth of settlement money intended for clients of his Wilshire Boulevard law firm, Girardi Keese, to an L.A. justice with whom he was having an affair in 2015.
Jayne reacted to The Times’ report Wednesday on Instagram, writing: “Wow. I knew about jewelry, shopping sprees, and plastic surgery but this really threw me for a loop.”
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