Here’s How Erika Jayne’s Presence On “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills” Has Impacted The Legal Fallout Of Tom Girardi’s Alleged Fraud And Embezzlement Scandal
The lawsuit, which has been obtained by BuzzFeed News, claims that Erika “made the cynical decision to leverage the scandal to further her career and stay relevant in the tabloids, meaning more exposure and a larger paycheck” for RHOBH.
A brand-new lawsuit is claiming that Erika Jayne’s role on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills made her a “frontwoman” in Tom Girardi’s fraud and embezzlement scandal.
Back in December 2020, Erika’s estranged husband, Tom Girardi, was sued by law firm Edelson PC on behalf of the families of the Lion Air flight JT 610 crash victims.
For some context, in October 2018, the Lion Air flight crashed into the sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew members on board. Tom — who rose to fame as a lawyer on the real Erin Brockovich case — had been representing the victims’ families.
The families of the plane crash victims later accused Tom and his now-defunct law firm, Girardi & Keese, of embezzling $2 million from the settlement intended for them.
Along with her estranged husband, Erika was also named in the December 2020 suit. This was because the law firm alleged that the reason Tom had stolen the funds in the first place was to “continue funding his and Erika's lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles.”
Another key piece of information to note is that one month before the lawsuit against Tom and Erika was filed in 2020, Erika publicly filed for divorce after 21 years of marriage. Their seemingly sudden split prompted Edelson PC to accuse the pair of orchestrating a “sham” divorce in an attempt to “fraudulently protect” the allegedly stolen funds.
However, Erika has repeatedly denied these allegations — most notably during a July 2021 episode of RHOBH, in which she called the claims “insane.” In the same episode, she denied having any knowledge of Tom’s actions, and instead claimed that she had been brought into the lawsuit by default.
Of course, if you’ve been keeping up with the ongoing litigation, you might be a little confused, given that earlier this year it was reported that — nearly 14 months after the initial suit was filed — Erika had been officially dismissed from the case.
This was, and still is, indeed the case. However, shortly after reports of Erika’s dismissal surfaced online, the founder and CEO of Edelson PC, Jay Edelson, clarified that — while the original case against Tom will continue in Chicago — his firm intends to refile their lawsuit in California.
Which brings us to the present, where Erika has been officially named in yet another lawsuit filed by the same firm, Edelson PC.
In the filings obtained by BuzzFeed News, Erika is being sued alongside her company, EJ Global LLC; Tom’s law firm; and its lenders.
The documents list nine separate complaints against the defendants, accusing them of: racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, receipt of stolen property, aiding and abetting concealment of stolen property, money had and received, conversion, unlawful business practice, consumers legal remedies act, and deceit.
Edelson PC is seeking an amount of “no less than $55 million” in damages for the families of the Lion Air flight victims.
And while Erika’s involvement in her husband’s crimes has been brought into question before, this lawsuit accuses her of being a “frontwoman” in Tom’s “scheme,” citing her role on RHOBH.
Erika joined the Bravo reality show back in 2015, at the start of its sixth season. Since then, she has solidified herself as not only a standout member of the cast, but seemingly one of the wealthiest too.
Flaunting her and Tom’s shared Pasadena estate, numerous sports cars, two private planes, and expensive jewelry, Erika has been credited with raising and redefining the levels of luxury seen on the show — namely with the introduction of her “glam squad,” at the cost of $40,000 per month.
And despite not appearing on RHOBH all that often, Tom’s presence was still felt thanks to Erika’s references to him and his successful career. As she embarked on various different career pursuits documented over the course of the show, Erika was often transparent about the fact that Tom’s financial backing afforded her the means and stability to pursue her pop music career.
Now, Edelson PC is highlighting Erika’s role on RHOBH in the ongoing litigation, accusing her of using her platform on the show to “prolong” Tom’s “scheme” by portraying him as a successful lawyer to ensure that his “creditors continued to believe that they were wealthy and that clients would continue to hire Tom and trust him with their money.”
“Erika acted as a ‘frontwoman’ of the operation, selling to the world (including unsuspecting clients) that Girardi Keese [Tom’s law firm] was successful. And she was exceptionally good in the role,” the documents say.
The suit also alleges that she used the show to “shamelessly [display] a nationwide showroom” of supposedly stolen money, going on to specifically reference the cost of her glam team as well as her infamous song and accompanying music video, “XXPEN$IVE.”
“When Erika joined the cast of The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills in 2015, she dazzled viewers by showing off their extravagant lifestyle and her extortionate spending habits, including her never-ending parade of designer clothes and high-end jewelry, her $250,000 Lamborghini Huracán, and her personal 24/7 ‘glam squad’ team that she paid $40,000 per month,” the legal filings claim.
“Spending money was so much a part of Erika’s personality that she released a song called XXPEN$IVE, which features the refrain, ‘it’s expensive to be me,’” the firm says.
Just as with the 2020 lawsuit, this filing alleges that the reason Tom stole the funds from the Lion Air crash victims was in order to maintain his and Erika’s lavish lifestyle, allowing her to keep “performing” their wealth on RHOBH for his benefit.
Edelson PC goes on to claim that while Tom’s financial troubles began to unfold in real time on RHOBH, Erika used her narrative on the show to “create uncertainty” about whether or not he could have been guilty.
They explicitly refer to her “confusing” revelations on the show about a car accident Tom was involved with in 2017, which she claimed led to a decline in his mental health. The lawsuit alleges that she used her platform to “assist with his defense,” using the inconsistencies in her recollection of Tom’s crash as evidence.
They go on to suggest that Erika’s choice to keep filming the show throughout its 11th season despite the unraveling of her marriage and legal troubles was a “cynical decision to leverage the scandal to further her career and stay relevant in the tabloids, meaning more exposure and a larger paycheck.”
In a statement provided to Page Six on Tuesday, Jay Edelson said that the new filing is “a giant step forward in obtaining real accountability for what was the largest criminal racketeering enterprise in the history of plaintiff’s law.”
He added: “It’s time for [Erika] to stop the lies and start taking some accountability.”
Both on and off camera, Erika has vehemently denied claims that she was in any way involved in Tom’s actions, maintaining that she was unaware of the ongoings at Girardi & Keese. She is yet to publicly address the most recent filing.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to a representative for Erika Jayne for comment.