Bankruptcy judge refuses to appoint Tom Girardi’s brother as personal guardian of troubled lawyer

A bankruptcy judge has said he will not appoint the brother of beleaguered plaintiffs’ attorney, Tom Girardi, to serve as personal guardian because a probates judge has already done so.

In a Zoom hearing Tuesday, U.S. Central District Bankruptcy Judge Barry Russell said Robert Girardi’s petition to serve as the “next friend” ad litem guardian for Tom Girardi, 81, was moot, because a Los Angeles Superior Court judge appointed him on February 2 to serve as temporary curator.

Robert Girardi said his brother could no longer pay his 25-year-old housekeeper and “has unfortunately deteriorated to the point that he can no longer take care of himself without help,” according to the guardianship file. of the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

But Russell, who oversees the Chapter 7 bankruptcies of Tom Girardi and his firm, Girardi Keese, berated Robert Girardi’s lawyer Leonard Peña of Peña & Soma in Pasadena, for failing to bring to his attention the decision of the probate court. Peña, in response, said Robert Girardi had not formally retained him at the time.

“I apologize to the court. I didn’t want to confuse, ”Peña replied on Tuesday. “I really felt my hand was tied by it all. But everything worked out.

Russell also said that, based on documents filed before him, he would not have granted Robert Girardi’s petition, which Peña filed last month.

He noted in particular an opposition filed Jan. 19 by Rafey Balabanian, of Edelson PC, whose firm was co-counsel with Tom Girardi in the lawsuit against Boeing over the 2018 crash of Lion Air flight 620 over indonesia. Balabanian was skeptical of Robert Girardi’s health claims, noting recent public appearances by Tom Girardi.

Girardi’s mental competence, he wrote, was not an issue “until he and his company were forced to respond to allegations that he embezzled or embezzled customer funds in connection with this trial “.

“You raised some pretty serious objections,” Russell told Balabanian during Tuesday’s hearing. “You say he did lectures and everything, and you talked to him and somewhere in December after it was clear you didn’t believe his stories about what happened to the $ 2 million he gave you. hung up on me. Your papers indicate that this has nothing to do with bankruptcy but a criminal prosecution. “

Edelson filed a contempt motion against Girardi after several of their clients claimed they had not received funds from their Lion Air settlements, concluded in early 2020. On December 14, a federal judge overseeing the Lion Air cases rendered a contempt judgment of $ 2 million against Girardi. and his office, referring them to the US attorney’s office in Chicago.

After creditors filed involuntary bankruptcy petitions against Tom Girardi and his company, Russell ordered Chapter 7 proceedings to continue last month. Tom Girardi has not appeared in bankruptcy court, nor filed lists of creditors, nor assets and liabilities, in connection with these proceedings.

A Tom Girardi personal bankruptcy trustee, meanwhile, has sought to hand over Girardi’s home in Pasadena, which he says could be worth $ 16.5 million. The house was featured on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which stars Tom Girardi’s wife, Erika Jayne.

On February 12, Robert Girardi opposed any attempt to evict his brother from his home. In this opposition, filed by Peña, he wrote that the trustee could have access to the house by February 19.

“My brother currently needs me to make all the decisions related to this bankruptcy case, all the legal matters in which he is currently involved, and also to make all the decisions related to his personal affairs, such as health decisions. He wrote in a statement. “It has been one of the most, if not the most difficult times of my life, being responsible for making decisions about the lives of others is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously.”

Russell has scheduled a hearing for February 23.

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