- Erika Jayne is liable to pay husband Tom Girardi’s former clients amid his ongoing bankruptcy case.
- The Ruigomezes, who are owed $11 million from Girardi, can now move forward with collection efforts.
- It was previously confirmed Girardi transferred $20 million in loans to Jayne.
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A judge has ruled that Erika Jayne will be liable to pay three of her husband Tom Girardi’s former clients amid his ongoing bankruptcy case and accusations that he embezzled settlement money from them.
Joe Ruigomez, his sister Jaime Ruigomez, and their mother Kathy Ruigomez, who are owed unpaid funds from a settlement Girardi’s firm handled, were cleared to move forward with their collection efforts against the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star on Tuesday, according to court documents obtained by Insider.
The motion comes after a bankruptcy trustee confirmed that Girardi, 82, had transferred $20 million in loans from his law firm, Girardi Keese, to Jayne’s company EJ Global.
The trustee has been liquidating Girardi’s assets after he was forced into involuntary bankruptcy, and had previously asked for special counsel to recover assets from Jayne, according to court documents. Girardi and Jayne were accused in a December lawsuit of using a “sham” divorce to hide millions in embezzled money from the widows and orphans of plane-crash victims. (The Ruigomez family’s money was owed from a separate settlement Girardi handled.)
The judge ruled Tuesday, according to the new court document, that “all assets identified by the Ruigomez family” will be subject to the bankruptcy case and that all parties “shall meet and confer in good faith to determine the character/ownership of the identified assets.”
Representatives for Girardi and Jayne didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Girardi came into the Ruigomez family’s life after Joe was severely burned during the San Bruno pipeline explosion
A natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas & Electric burst into flames in the California town on September 9, 2010, killing eight people – including Joe’s girlfriend.
“Fire just came flowing through the house. I couldn’t see anything, I was surrounded by flames,” Joe said in “The Housewife and the Hustler,” a Hulu/ABC News documentary that explores Jayne and Girardi’s legal woes.
“I remember having my life flash in front of me and thinking this is it,” he added.
Joe said he suffered burns to nearly 90% of his body and met Girardi in the hospital after awaking from a coma, adding that the personal injury attorney – who was known for winning multimillion-dollar settlements against major corporations – wanted to represent him.
The family won their case in 2013, but Girardi stopped giving them their settlement payments on time. Eventually, by 2017, they said he stopped paying them at all.
“It’s very disappointing finding out that your lawyer basically robbed you, knowing that he knows everything I’ve been through,” Joe said in the documentary. “I just don’t get it.”
According to the documentary, Girardi agreed to pay the Ruigomez family $12 million after they sued for their remaining settlement funds in a 2020 litigation. But so far, they say they’ve only received one payment for $1 million.
The new ruling comes after Jayne was accused of refusing to turn over bank statements
A court document filed on June 23 and obtained by Insider notes that Jayne created a new company, Pretty Mess Inc., “after the news broke of this scandal,” and alleges that she’s been using it to hide her assets from the bankruptcy trustee. It also states that Jayne has refused to provide access to “any books and records of EJ Global or any of her affiliated companies.” “As each day goes by, Erika has been publicly dissipating community assets by selling her clothes on public websites, flaunting large jewels on social media and on television,” it continues.
Jayne’s accountant, lawyer, and landlord were subsequently ordered to turn over her financial records, including pay stubs, bank statements, and emails and texts of a financial nature, People reported on June 29.
‘The Housewife and the Hustler’ featured new allegations against Jayne and Girardi
In addition to the newly publicized claims that Jayne received a $20 million loan from Girardi’s firm, the documentary featured a never-before-aired deposition video in which Girardi acknowledges he’s broke.
“At one point I had about $80 million, or $50 million in cash – that’s all gone,” he says in the clip. “I also had a stock portfolio of about $50 million, and that’s all gone.”
Another lawsuit highlighted in the special revealed that Jayne was subpoenaed twice last year to give a deposition about the couple’s assets, once on May 28 and again on September 28.
The hearings were postponed for undisclosed reasons, and Jayne never sat for questioning, according to the documentary. She filed for divorce from Girardi less than two months after the second subpoena, citing “irreconcilable differences” after 20 years of marriage.
Jayne, who appears on the current season of “RHOBH,” has maintained on the show that she didn’t know about the lawsuits before filing to divorce Girardi in November.
Most recently, in a “RHOBH” promo that aired after Wednesday’s episode, Jayne directly addressed the “sham divorce” allegations for the first time, insisting that the claims are “insane.”