Thomas Girardi was at the top of his game for decades, but today, he’s facing millions of dollars worth of lawsuits as well as a potential bankruptcy. So, what went wrong?
According to a bombshell new report, Thomas, who gained fame after one of his cases inspired the 2000 film Erin Brockovich, began facing legal drama in 2015 and after seemingly borrowing more money than he could pay back, as he now faces the likely demise of his legacy after allegedly embezzling money from his clients.
In a report shared by the Los Angeles Times on December 17, it was noted that Thomas is on the cusp of losing everything that is important to him, including his law firm, Girardi Keese, his marriage to Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne, and his reputation.
“At one point I had about 80 million or 50 million in cash. That’s all gone,” Thomas admitted in a court testimony this fall. “I don’t have any money.”
While Thomas has been known to earn up to 40 percent from his successful cases, he is being accused of stealing millions from vulnerable clients, including the family members of victims of a deadly plane crash in Indonesia in 2018.
As for the start of Thomas’ money troubles, the Times revealed that in 2015, five decades after establishing his law firm, he was accused of pocketing too much of a $17 million settlement scored for 138 senior-citizen women who developed cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy.
After lawyers representing the women accused Thomas of misappropriating more than $10 million in a case filed against him, Thomas borrowed $12 million from the Law Finance Group at a high-interest rate as well as an additional $5 million from a lender in Arizona.
Months later, a settlement was reached, but when it came to Thomas’ borrowing, he was just getting started.
Although Thomas was able to make it right with the Law Finance Group after a lengthy court battle, he continued to borrow money at high interest and kept the companies who were loaning him money from finding out about one another.
As the Times explained, Thomas had promised the same collateral to a number of different companies. However, because he seemed to be a safe bet for the companies, he didn’t have a problem getting loans.
Just two years ago, Thomas claimed to have a net worth of $264 million, which included two planes, $9 million in jewelry, $3 million in antiques, art, and furniture, and an estate in Pasadena he said was worth $15.5 million.
“Conservatively, our fees for 2016 will be in excess of $110,000,000,” he wrote in an affidavit submitted in 2018 to American Law Firm Funding, also naming assets, including a real estate investment in Temecula, shares of a Nevada casino operator, and Erika’s music career.
“I believe that the Erika Jayne record sales and performances will be worth a large sum of money, but I believe it’s a little too speculative to make it [a] substantial factor,” he explained.
Before settling with the Law Finance Group, the company’s CEO, Alan Zimmerman, claimed that “very substantial sums, denominated as ‘loans’” were going from Thomas’ firm accounts to a company he set up for Erika’s musical endeavors, EJ Global LLC. In fact, according to the CEO, Thomas sent more than $20 million to the brand.
In 2001, just one year after tying the knot with Erika, Thomas claimed his monthly income was nearly $263,000. In the years since, he appears to have spent quite a lot of that income on his wife’s career.
“He was a billion percent supportive,” Erika wrote in her memoir, Pretty Mess.
In recent years, Thomas funded Erika’s career and hired a number of high-ups in the industry, including Michael Jackson’s choreographer, one of Madonna’s songwriters, and Lady Gaga’s costume designer, in the hopes of ensuring her success.
Understandably, he was proud of his investment and didn’t hesitate to show her off, even to his peers.
In 2011, while attending the Italian American Lawyers Association’s annual “Supreme Court Night” with attorneys and judges, Thomas, who served as the year’s association president, held a screening of one of Erika’s music videos, which featured the RHOBH star barely dressed and gyrating.
Following the event, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise deemed the bash “a fiasco.”
“Set at a smoke-filled party, the video, if I’m correctly advised, includes a woman partyer pouring liquor on a man’s bare chest and lapping it up,” wrote editor Roger Grace, who said in a later interview that judges were “absolutely beside themselves.”
Throughout their marriage, Thomas and Erika both made substantial political contributions, most of which went to the Democrats. As a Times analysis explained, Thomas donated at least $7.5 million while more than $1.3 million came from his wife.
The couple was also in the good graces of California Governor Gavin Newsom, who once told Andy Cohen that Thomas was “extraordinarily generous” to his campaigns, and because of that, Erika was his “favorite ‘Real Housewife.’”
In addition to the many lawsuits he’s facing currently, Thomas was once sued by a company that provided back-office services for $7.5 million, by an expert witness who wanted $40,000, and by a security company that claimed they were owed $53,000 for guarding Thomas’ home.
Thomas has also faced legal drama in recent years from his first wife, who claimed he quit paying her the $10,000 alimony payments she was owed after their 1983 split.
In September, while discussing a $12 million settlement owed to burn victim Joseph Ruigomez during a judgment debtor exam, Thomas, who paid the family just $1 million, said his stock portfolio of about $50 million was “all gone” and that he had “maybe a couple thousand” dollars in his personal bank account.
“I haven’t taken a penny in salary out of the firm for more than two years,” he explained.
The report also touches on Erika’s involvement in the legal drama as she has also been sued alongside Thomas more than once now. In fact, the report states that Erika recently missed a deposition and seemingly connects that to her divorce filing.
“On the date set for Jayne’s testimony, she was out of town and it was rescheduled for January. She filed for divorce on election day, citing irreconcilable differences and indicating she planned to seek spousal support from Girardi,” the report stated.
What isn’t made clear is on what exact date Erika was originally scheduled to be deposed.
Photos Credit: Jeffrey Mayer/MEGA, Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock