A Chicago law firm asked a federal judge Friday to order a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star to stop selling designer clothing amid an effort to recover $2 million in missing money owed to people who lost loved ones in the Lion Air Flight 610 crash.
It also said reality star Erika Jayne should be forced to deposit any money made from her clothing sales since Monday, when the judge froze her estranged husband’s assets, with the clerk of the federal court in Chicago.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin responded by setting a telephonic hearing for Tuesday, during which Jayne’s lawyer is supposed to appear. If she doesn’t have one, the Chicago-based judge wrote, “she must be present on the call herself.”
Durkin has made clear his objective is to recover $2 million in settlement money owed to people who lost loved ones in the October 2018 crash of the Boeing 737 Max 8. Attorneys for Thomas Girardi, Jayne’s lawyer husband who helped represent those families, have said he can’t pay the money. They have also failed to explain what happened to it.
Durkin held Girardi and his law firm, Girardi Keese, in civil contempt Monday, explaining the “simple way to cure all of this” is to pay at least four clients that are each owed a half-million dollars. The judge also froze the assets of Girardi and his firm.
“These are widows and orphans,” Durkin said Monday. “Half a million dollars for any one of these families is a significant amount of money, life changing, given the tragedy they went through.”
Then, on Wednesday, Jayne promoted designer clothing for sale on Twitter. That prompted the Chicago firm Edelson PC on Friday to ask Durkin to enforce his contempt order against Jayne, also known as Erika Girardi. They wrote that a link in her tweet connected users to the French company Vestiaire Collective.
“While Edelson is unaware of the exact relationship between Vestiaire Collective and Erika Girardi, Erika Girardi may be attempting to move Tom Girardi’s assets outside the United States by selling them through a French company,” lawyer Jay Edelson wrote.
A lawyer for Jayne did not respond to messages from the Chicago Sun-Times seeking comment Friday. Durkin also told Edelson to make sure Jayne and her legal counsel knew about the upcoming Tuesday hearing “by any reasonable means.”
Meanwhile, an involuntary bankruptcy petition was filed Friday against Thomas Girardi in California, court records show.
Durkin has taken a hard line since learning of the missing settlement money, referring the controversy to the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago. Federal prosecutors responded by asking for access to sealed documents, a request Durkin has granted.
During a separate hearing this week, a lawyer for Girardi asked whether an outside party could pay for a forensic evaluation of her client. She said Girardi is “very popular” in Los Angeles, and several people had offered him assistance.
The judge said that would be fine, but he also asked rhetorically whether those people could help Girardi pay the $2 million still owed to the families. “Understood,” the lawyer replied.
The revelations about the missing money came in a separate lawsuit filed earlier this month by Edelson’s firm that also named Jayne as a defendant. It said Boeing, headquartered in Chicago, had reached individual settlements with clients and families represented by Girardi Keese and Edelson, with primary terms reached in early 2020.
The lawsuit outlined multiple attempts by Edelson to determine whether the clients had been paid, resulting in mixed answers. It also accused Girardi and Jayne of leading “opulent” and “notoriously lavish lifestyles,” pointing to $40,000 per month Jayne reportedly spends on her “look” and Girardi’s daily standing reservation and exclusive table at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Los Angeles.
“Erika even performs a song called ‘Exxpen$ive,’ featuring the hook ‘it’s expensive to be me,’” the lawsuit noted.
It alleged a publicly filed divorce between Girardi and Jayne “is a sham proceeding,” designed to shield assets from creditors. And in the filing Friday, Jay Edelson wrote that “Erika Girardi could not be more closely associated with Tom Girardi. The property she is attempting to sell likely belongs, in part, to Tom Girardi.”
“Simply put: the Court froze all of Tom Girardi’s assets, and that means all community property is frozen too,” Edelson wrote. “Erika Girardi must stop selling her clothes.”