Erika Girardi’s lawyer-husband may be in need of a lawyer of his own. The husband of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, became famous years before his wife for working on the famed Erin Brockovich case against Pacific Gas & Electric. But now Thomas Girardi (76) and his law firm Girardi-Keese are being sued for allegedly defrauding clients out of millions of dollars won in a class-action suit.
Here’s what happened: From 1992 to 2001, Girardi-Keese represented employees of Lockheed Corporation in a legal battle with the company over chemical exposure. A settlement was eventually reached in 2001 totaling $130 million for the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges it’s a case of “conspiracy, criminal fraud, theft and breach of trust in which Thomas V. Girardi, Girardi-Keese, a well-known plaintiff’s law firm (‘Girardi’), and other attorneys and employees of Girardi-Keese participated in and aided and abetted a scheme to defraud their clients by charging excessive fees and costs and fraudulently converting settlement proceeds to which Plaintiff and other clients.”
So, what took so long for this to come out? Its 2016, this case was settled in 2001. The current attorney, Paul Kranich, states that the plaintiffs have had legal issues with Girardi and his firm dating back to 2001 when the settlement was originally reached. During litigation over these “legal issues” it was discovered that Girardi and his law firm spent funds from the Lockheed case deemed as “improper.”
Specifics include: $250,000 to an aviation company owned by Girardi, $350,000 to Western Bank for ‘fees’, $50 to an associate at the firm who never worked on the Lockheed case, $1 million to ‘Global Client Payments’ and allegedly more than $827,000 to ‘Lockheed Litigation’ plaintiffs – and even a $500,000 payment on a real estate escrow in which Girardi was involved and was unrelated to the Lockheed litigation.
The plaintiffs’ attorney is accusing Girardi of lying about payments made and using the money in unrelated areas. Another example, $100,000 was reportedly paid to a man believed to be Girardi’s divorce attorney – he has two ex-wives and has been married to Erika for 17 years.
The suit is demanding $50 million in compensatory, general damages, restitution and punitive damages. The lawsuit states that Girardi charged 40% when he had agreed to “accept only one-third in fees on many of the settlements.”
Girardi has been practicing law for more than 50 years with his firm specializing in personal injury, business, employment and environmental law. In the case against Pacific Gas & Electric he won a $333 million settlement for the 650 residents of Hinkley, California.
These things happen in business, but one has to wonder, if it weren’t for Erika’s newfound fame from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, would we be reading about this now.