Erika Girardi is facing yet another lawsuit as a result of her husband’s alleged financial crimes.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, known professionally as Erika Jayne, is being sued by Nicolas Cage’s ex-girlfriend Christina Fulton for $745,000 over claims of fraud and theft, according to court documentsviewed by PEOPLE.
Fulton, 55, claims that Erika, 51, and her estranged husband Thomas “Tom” Girardi are responsible for breach of fiduciary duties, breach of contract and legal malpractice, among other complaints.
Tom, who was once seen as a prominent and successful plaintiff’s lawyer, founded the now-defunct law firm Girardi Keese. The firm collapsed immediately after claims it stole money from clients.
Fulton’s lawsuit claims she also “was one of the firm’s clients who was unfortunately a victim of this fraud and theft.” Fulton hired Girardi Keese to represent her “in connection with claims based on severe injuries she sustained in an automobile accident on or about January 1, 2016,” the complaint states.
Fulton’s case comes after a recent lawsuit filed by the Edelson PC law firm claims that Girardi Keese siphoned off settlement payments to family members of plane-crash victims, women who developed breast cancer after taking hormone replacement therapy, and others who hired the plaintiffs’ firm, according to Bloomberg Law.
Edelson sued Girardi Keese in 2019 for misappropriating settlement funds and money owed for attorneys’ fees arising out of the firm’s representation of plaintiffs in litigation against Boeing over the 2018 crash of Lion Air flight 610.
Fulton’s complaint alleges that Erika’s company, EJ Global LLC — of which she is the single owner — “was created for the purpose of funneling money from Girardi Keese to benefit Erika.”
Additionally, the court documents allege that the Girardis were using Erika’s company to avoid paying taxes — and that the reality star was aware of the scheme.
“Erika and Tom Girardi would deduct EJG´s expenses on their personal tax return,” the document says. “Girardi Keese would keep the money paid to Erika as a bogus receivable on its books and records. Erika clearly knew that for tax years 2011 to 2013, the FTB found that the entity was created as a tax avoidance entity.”
For this reason, Erika has been a defendant in multiple million-dollar lawsuits. In January, she celebrated after being dismissed from her husband’s $2 million fraud and embezzlement lawsuit, despite lawyers vowing to refile the case in California.
But Erika’s lawyer Evan C. Borges claims that the current lawsuit filed by Fulton has two fundamental problems. “First, Erika, a non-lawyer, had no role in the actions of Girardi Keese in dealing with clients of the firm or managing the firm’s finances,” Borges wrote in a statement to PEOPLE. “Second, Erika reasonably believed, along with most of the legal community, that she was married to an extremely wealthy attorney with a financially successful law firm.”
“Erika’s lifestyle and persona on a Housewives show are not legally valid reasons to sue her, especially for things she didn’t do,” he continued. “The focus should be on Girardi Keese and, where supported by evidence, the lawyers, accountants, and financiers who enabled the law firm’s misconduct.”
In court documents shared with PEOPLE for a separate lawsuit filed against the exes on June 28, Judge Barry Russell supported Erika, saying “to say it’s unlikely that she was aware of any of the shenanigans going on would be an understatement.”
But Fulton’s lawyer Ronald Richards says that Borges has it all wrong. “Erika is not being sued because she was Tom’s spouse, she is being sued because she was the number [one] beneficiary of misappropriated client funds and engaged in tax fraud with Tom to keep them funds,” Richards wrote in a statement to PEOPLE.
“She needs to return some but not all of this settlement that was stolen by Tom with the help of others at this firm who we are investigating but may not be defendants yet,” he continued. “Erika cannot keep all the benefits of stolen client money. Innocent spouse does not provide immunity for misappropriated funds.”
Richards claims that Tom committed multiple crimes against his client Fulton, including stealing money from her and other clients as well as using the stolen money to pay the personal lifestyle expenses of both the now-estranged couple.
Richards also argues that Erika must have been aware of her husband’s actions, contrary to Judge Russell’s ruling.
“[Tom] Girardi actually paid himself very little as he funneled stolen client money to Erika’s company and other vendors instead of paying tax on income,” Richards continues. “His lifestyle expenses and double deductions are all things open and notorious to Erika.”
Sheesh. Erika can’t catch a break!