Erika Jayne is #Winning!
This week the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star scored a major victory amid her various legal issues. Erika was cleared of any “wrongdoing” in a $5 million aiding and abetting lawsuit filed against her in 2020 by two of her estranged husband Tom Girardi’s former partners, attorneys Philip R. Sheldon and Robert P. Finn.
Los Angeles Judge Richard Fruin found no evidence proving that the Pretty Mess singer participated in “any wrongdoing” after Sheldon and Finn accused her of “aiding and abetting” Tom in his alleged crimes. Tom’s former partners claim Erika knew that Tom was using their portions of the settlement money to fund the reality TV couple’s lavish lifestyle.
However, Judge Fruin ruled on Monday that the attorneys failed to prove that Erika had any “actual knowledge” of Tom’s alleged crimes.
When making his decision, Judge Fruin referenced Erika’s deposition in which she said, “Listen, they did all the books at Girardi & Keese. They were in charge of all of the ledgers … I didn’t do the invoices.”
She added, “I just thought it would all be taken care of. I didn’t really ask. Like, it’s not like I was raking in millions of bucks … I didn’t know what they were doing down there.”
Judge Fruin also cited Sheldon and Finn’s own declaration that Erika never participated in any contracts between Tom and his law firm colleagues. He explained that Sheldon and Finn did not provide any direct evidence that proved Erika had “actual knowledge” that Tom misappropriated funds to EJ Global LLC. Fruin added that the “evidence” they did provide was more were was all “circumstantial evidence.”
“The evidence is irrelevant,” Judge Fruin ruled. Court documents also state that Erika’s “lavish and extravagant hobby funded by the spouses’ community property is not evidence of the ‘actual knowledge’ any breach of fiduciary duty.”
“The Court finds that there is no triable issue of material fact as to Ms. Girardi having ‘actual knowledge’ of plaintiffs claims of the existence of a fiduciary duty between plaintiffs and [Girardi and Girardi & Keese],” Judge Fruin concluded. “The Court, therefore, grants summary judgment in favor of defendant Erika Girardi.”
Finn and Sheldon’s attorney, Ronald Richards, tells Page Six they plan to appeal the ruling. Richards adds that Tom “had a fiduciary duty to third parties who were expecting money,” which they plan to show in their appeal.
Erika’s attorney, Evan C. Borges, tells Page Six that this ruling is “critical” for the reality TV star because it is the “first time that a Court of law has looked at all the supposed evidence against Erika, and the Court found in Erika’s favor.”
“Because it is the truth, the Court concluded that there is no evidence of any knowledge on Erika’s part of any wrongdoing by Tom Girardi or Girardi Keese, and no evidence of Erika’s participation in any wrongdoing,” Borges continued.
Borges said he and Erika are “gratified that based on a review of actual evidence by a court of law, Erika has been exonerated.”
He expects that other “aiding and abetting” lawsuits against the RHOBH star will also “fail for the same reason,” claiming that they are all “contrary to the truth and based on no real evidence.”
Despite Erika’s win, Ronald Richards doesn’t think the reality TV star should get too excited, stating that “none of the other lawsuits against are limited to a single count of aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty but include a much larger scope of causes of action.”
“The bankruptcy trustee still has the more important and easier to prove claims,” Richards adds. “Both EJ‘s company and David Lira will be defendants at the trial, and Erika Girardi has been ordered to appear personally for trial via a subpoena.”
“We contend it could be proven by willful blindness, and actual knowledge can be inferred,” he concluded. “No one is ever gonna win every motion on every count, but that doesn’t mean you don’t take discovery or try to prove them, and there’s nothing wrong with a difference of legal opinion between a litigant and the court.”
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills airs on Wednesdays at 8 pm on Bravo.