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Law Firm Challenges Claim That Thomas Girardi Is ‘Incompetent’

Jan. 20, 2021, 6:02 PM

Thomas Girardi, the famed plaintiffs’ attorney alleged to have “embezzled” Lion Air client settlement funds, is far from incompetent, Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC says.

That assertion comes in an Edelson filing opposed to a motion seeking appointment of a guardian ad litem for Girardi’s firm, Girardi Keese, in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California.

Edelson, which served as GK’s local co-counsel for clients in the litigation over the 2018 crash of Lion Air flight JT 610, says it has an interest in yet to be paid attorneys’ fees for its role in the matters.

Thomas Girardi’s brother, Robert, made the request for appointment as the debtor’s guardian ad litem Jan. 13, claiming that Thomas suffers from short-term memory loss and is “incompetent.”

In support of its opposition to the motion filed Tuesday, Edelson refers to—among other things—a mid-October 2020 interview with Daniel Forouzan called “Tom Girardi - Schmoozin’ with Forouzan.”

During the “one-hour interview,” Edelson says that Girardi spoke “cogently and in detail about several matters,” including a “recent trial victory,” a “relationship with one of his earliest clients,” and the “use of demonstrative exhibits at trial.”

Edelson says the video shows that “Mr. Girardi has a command of the facts, and can remember events from both the recent and distant past.”

Edelson also points to Girardi’s appearance on a panel on Nov. 21, 2020, and says that at least as recently as Nov. 30, 2020, Girardi was “signing legal papers and swearing out declarations in his own name.”

Edelson PC, now a creditor, filed a lawsuit in federal court in early December against Girardi, GK, and others to recoup its share of attorneys’ fees, as well as to track down the Boeing settlement funds GK still owes to several clients.

Edelson was also responsible for bringing the non-payment to the attention of Judge Thomas M. Durkin, who presides over the Lion Air litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Durkin found Girardi and GK in contempt last month after the firm admitted it still owed—and couldn’t afford to pay—clients $2 million of the settlement funds that it received from Boeing. Durkin also referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Filings for Robert Girardi were made by Pena & Soma APC. Thomas Girardi is represented in the Lion Air matter by Monico & Spevack.

Edelson and counsel for the Girardis didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is In re Girardi Keese, Bankr. C.D. Cal., No. 2:20-bk-21022-BR, Opposition to Motion 1/19/21.

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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