LOS ANGELES – A judge has formally dismissed television personality Erika Jayne as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by two attorneys against her as well as her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, and his former law firm, Girardi & Keese, in a dispute over attorneys’ fees for shared legal work on toxic chemical cases.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin signed a judgment in favor of Jayne on Friday, affirming his Aug. 29 ruling removing her as a defendant in the case brought by attorneys Philip R. Sheldon and Robert P. Finn, as well as their law firms. The judge found that Jayne had no “actual knowledge” of any alleged breach of a duty by Girardi and his firm to not put their interests ahead of those of the plaintiffs.
Sheldon and Finn allege that in 2008 and 2009, they and Girardi & Keese entered into written agreements with clients in connection with personal injury claims related to exposure to toxic chemicals emanating from cement manufacturing facilities in California.
The plaintiffs and Girardi & Keese further agreed to share attorneys’ fees, according to the suit, but Jayne’s lawyers maintained in their court papers that the suit does not state whether the alleged fee-splitting agreement was verbal or written.
The toxic chemical cases settled for $31 million and Girardi & Keese was required to disburse to Sheldon and Finn their share of attorneys’ fees, but allegedly failed to do so, according to the suit, which was filed in December 2020 and seeks $900,000 in compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.
According to Jayne’s lawyers, the plaintiffs without evidence alleged the 51-year-old “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member aided and abetted Girardi, now 83, and his former firm in putting their interests ahead of those of the plaintiffs based on their belief that Jayne was intimately involved in Girardi & Keese’s business dealings.
In reality, Jayne is not and never was an attorney, has had a separate career as an entertainer, never worked for Girardi & Keese and knows nothing about the toxic chemical cases, according to Jayne’s attorneys’ court papers.
“I was completely unaware of, did not participate in and did not provide any assistance of any nature regarding any conduct or scheme by anyone – – including Girardi & Keese and Tom Girardi — with the object or goal of harming plaintiffs or depriving plaintiffs of money that plaintiffs claimed was due to them,” Jayne said in a sworn statement in support of her dismissal motion.
On Thursday, the plaintiffs dropped their claims against Jayne’s company, EJ Global LLC.