- An associate of the late Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is suing his estate for breach of contract.
- Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, who claimed in the suit to be Hsieh’s “right hand person,” sued his father and brother.
- Hsieh, who left Zappos in 2020, died last year of smoke inhalation following a fire in Connecticut.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
A woman claiming to be a longtime friend and associate of Tony Hsieh, the former Zappos CEO who died late last year, filed two lawsuits against his estate, alleging his family breached contracts she had with him, the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported.
Jennifer “Mimi” Pham filed two suits in Clark County, Nev., against Hsieh’s estate, which is managed by his father, Richard, and his brother, Andrew. Pham filed the lawsuits through through two limited liability companies she manages. The new lawsuit was filed Feb. 5 by Mr. Taken LLC and followed a suit filed January 20, by Baby Monster LLC.
The suits list Pham as a manager of both companies. According to the latest suit, Hsieh’s estate on January 29 issued a notice stating it had suspended the contract with Pham’s company, Mr. Taken LLC. The January suit alleges that Baby Monster LLC is owed more than $US680,000 in unpaid fees.
The new suit alleges that Hsieh retained Pham’s company to provide “certain management and administrative support services” for his intention of entering into the documentary film industry. The specifics of the services were redacted in the lawsuit.
The February suit also alleges Pham’s company had been informed on December 5 that Hsieh’s brother, Andrew, and another company would take over the responsibility of working with Park City Planning and Development on Hsieh’s projects, that according to the contract, were to be handled by Pham’s company.
In both suits, Pham claimed to be Hsieh’s “assistant, right hand person, and friend for the seventeen years preceding his death.”
In an effort to substantiate their relationship, the court documents say Hsieh had used Pham’s cell phone number for his cable and his utility bills and that both he and Pham had listed the same address on their drivers’ licenses. The lawsuits also note it is believed that Hsieh did not have a will or trust related to his estate at the time of his death last year.
Pham also claimed in the suits she had a closer relationship to Hsieh than he had with his father and brother, “even though they are blood relatives.” She also alleged that Hsieh’s brother, Andrew, had relocated to Park City to be closer to his brother only after Hsieh had offered to pay him a $US1 million annual salary.
Hsieh’s family through media representatives declined to comment on this story. Lawyers for Pham did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment and more information.
Hsieh died last year as a result of accidental smoke inhalation
Hsieh died in November 2020 in a hospital in Bridgeport, Connecticut, about a week after first responders pulled him from a burning shed at his girlfriend’s home in the town of New London. Late last month, the New London fire marshal said investigators were unable to determine the exact cause of the fire that killed the visionary CEO.
Instead, investigators determined that the fatal fire was the result of one of four scenarios: a misused portable propane heater, “carelessly discarded smoking material,” a “misuse of candles,” or “carelessness or even an intentional act by Hsieh.”
No criminal charges were expected to be filed as a result of the fire or Hsieh’s death, New London officials said last month.
Before authorities arrived at the fire in the early hours of November 18, Hsieh’s colleagues and friends at the Connecticut property had attempted unsuccessfully to rescue him from the locked shed. The fire department had been called to the property twice on November 16, two days before Hsieh’s death, because a smoke alarm automatically alerted authorities.
No criminal charges stemming from the fire were filed, New London officials said at a press conference in January. While the cause of Hsieh’s death was announced in December as accidental smoke inhalation, complete autopsy results have yet to be made public.
Hsieh retired from Zappos, the Las Vegas-based shoe retailer, quietly in August 2020 after more than two decades at the company. As Insider previously reported, in his final months,Hsieh moved from his longtime home of Las Vegas to Park City, Utah, purchased a slew of million-dollar properties, and acted as a “guardian angel” for local businesses struggling during the pandemic.
But Hsieh also became fascinated with fire, and inhaled nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, as Insider and others reported. The substance can cause an intense, but short-lived high when it’s inhaled. Hsieh’s death led to an outpouring of support focused on his contributions to the business world and his passion for spearheading community-building projects.
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