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Girardi Keese Trustee Opposes Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem

Feb. 3, 2021, 5:59 PM

The trustee overseeing Girardi Keese LLP’s bankruptcy, after a Chapter 7 petition was filed against the now defunct law firm in December, opposes the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent the firm’s interests in the case.

Girardi Keese is an entity, not a person, and an entity “cannot be incompetent,” Elissa D. Miller said in the statement filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday.

Robert Girardi cited no legal basis for his appointment to serve as guardian ad litem, alleging only that his brother, firm owner Thomas Girardi, is incompetent, Miller said.

Miller argues that a guardian ad litem wouldn’t add any benefit or serve in a role any different than the trustee. Robert Girardi’s motion is “devoid of any evidence” that he had any relationship with, or knowledge of, the firm, Miller said.

Meanwhile, Jason Rund, the trustee in parallel Chapter 7 proceedings against Thomas Girardi personally, filed a statement Tuesday saying he agreed with an opposition filed by creditor Edelson PC, insofar as it argues that “the state probate court is the proper court to make the determination” as to Girardi’s competency. Rund argues that the bankruptcy court should defer to that determination.

The California probate court granted in part a petition filed by Robert Girardi to appoint him as temporary conservator Monday, to allow him “the power to contract” on behalf of his brother. The court deferred the remainder of the petition to March 15, 2021.

Edelson PC, who served as local co-counsel for plaintiffs represented by GK in litigation over the 2018 Lion Air crash, is separately suing GK, Thomas Girardi, his estranged wife, and Real House Wives of Beverly Hills star and performer Erika Jayne, along with former attorneys at the firm who handled the Lion Air matters, over unpaid fees.

They are also pushing to hold the former GK attorneys in civil—and if not civil, then criminal—contempt, for failing to ensure that settlement proceeds were paid in full to their shared clients. Thomas Girardi was found in civil contempt in December after admitting that at least $2 million in client settlement funds haven’t been forwarded.

Both of those matters are ongoing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Thomas Girardi trustee Rund is represented by Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Brill LLP. GK trustee Miller is represented by Smiley Wang-Ekvall LLP.

The federal bankruptcy cases are In re Girardi Keese, Bankr. C.D. Cal., No. 2:20-bk-21022-BR, trustee’s opposition 2/2/21 and In re Girardi Keese, Bankr. C.D. Cal., No. 2:20-bk-21022, trustee’s statement 2/2/21 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Holly Barker in Washington at hbarker@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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