A judge ruled Tuesday that some of Tom Girardi’s former clients can pursue a collections lawsuit against his estranged wife, Erika Girardi.
According to court records obtained by PEOPLE, Tom’s ex-clients, Joseph Ruigomez, Jaime Ruigomez and Kathleen Ruigomez, will be able to collect the $11 million they are owed by him per a 2020 litigation.
Previously, the judge placed a stay on collections from Tom’s assets as he and his law firm, Girardi Keese, continue to be investigated by a bankruptcy trustee after having to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy late last year.
However, weeks after the bankruptcy trustee’s special litigation counsel reported that Girardi Keese transferred $20 million to Erika’s various businesses, the Ruigomez’s have been given the go ahead to continue with their suit against the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star.
“All assets identified by the Ruigomez family shall be subject to all rights of the Girardi bankruptcy estate and the [Girardi Keese] bankruptcy estate, which parties shall meet and confer in good faith to determine the character/ownership of the identified assets,” the new document states, later adding, “The Ruigomez Family, the Girardi Trustee and the GK Trustee shall cooperate with each other with their collection efforts against Erika.”
A lawyer for Erika did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The Ruigomez family’s story was covered in last month’s ABC News documentary exploring the legal woes facing Tom and Erika, titled The Housewife and the Hustler. Joe Ruigomez gave a detailed account of his experience working with Tom and how he believes Tom swindled him and his family of their settlement money.
Joe’s family hired Tom after he was critically injured in the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010. “We thought he could win [the case for us],” said Joe’s sister, Jamie, in the doc. “We didn’t know how much of a snake he would be along the way.”
After settling the lawsuit for the Ruigomez family in 2013, Tom allegedly suggested that he put the multi-million dollar settlement in one of his investments and dispense the money monthly. But after the family stopped receiving payments from the settlement, they became suspicious about where their money was. Joe said Tom became increasingly difficult to reach and failed to give straight answers when they asked about the money.
Joe claimed that by 2017, the payments “disappeared completely,” prompting the family to file a lawsuit in order to obtain the remaining funds. Tom allegedly agreed to pay them $12 million last year, signing a document saying he would make a $1 million initial payment, followed by a second payment of $2.5 million.
“He never got to the second payment,” Joe’s mother, Kathy, claimed.
The new ruling is the latest in a series of legal controversies facing Tom, 82, and Erika, 49, who filed for divorce from him in November.
One month after the divorce filing, Tom and Girardi Keese were accused of embezzling funds from several families who lost loved ones in a 2018 Boeing plane crash, and he was later sued by his business partners, resulting in the chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Tom and Erika were additionally accused of orchestrating a “sham divorce” to hide their assets.
On June 23, the petitioning creditors in the bankruptcy case filed three separate motions that accused Erika of refusing to turn over bank statements and other documents to the bankruptcy trustee, according to copies of the motions obtained by PEOPLE.
About a week later, the court ruled in favor of the creditors, ordering that Erika’s accountant Michael Ullman, divorce lawyer Larry Ginsburg, and landlord Benjamin Khakshour turn over various “key documents,” including her pay stubs, bank statements, and any emails and text messages pertaining to her finances.
We’re willing to bet Erika doesn’t have any money anymore.
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