Girardi Keese lawyers escape contempt in Lion Air Funds case (1)
Former Girardi Keese lawyers David Lira and Keith Griffin will not be held in contempt for their involvement in the Lion Air crash litigation in which millions of dollars owed to victims were stolen, a judge has heard Chicago Federal, adding that Edelson PC, prosecutors and the state bars will “bring bad actors to account.”
Judge Thomas M. Durkin of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Wednesday dismissed a motion for contempt filed by Chicago-based local attorney Edelson-Girardi Keese in the class action lawsuit. in the crash of a 2018
The court held a three-day hearing in December on the motion regarding Lira and Griffin a year after issuing an order finding disbarred plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Girardi and his firm in contempt and entering judgment against them to the amount of the unpaid payments.
“Girardi took advantage of vulnerable people at their most vulnerable times, and he used the prestige of his profession, the reputation of American courts, and the imprimatur of this Court to do so,” Durkin said. “It is almost impossible to repair such a breach of trust.”
“The best we can do is demonstrate that the justice system smeared by Girardi has the ability to rectify its mistakes and bring bad actors to justice. With the hearings and settlements initiated by the Edelson firm, a step has been taken in that direction,” Durkin said.
Durkin has previously found Girardi dismissive for taking customers’ money. Girardi has since been disbarred from the California bar. The man and the company are involuntarily bankrupt. Earlier this year, the Edelson Company negotiated a settlement with its insurance company, which resulted in customers being paid in full.
“Evaluation of the lawyer’s conduct is now left to more competent authorities, be it a state bar, criminal prosecutors or one of the many ongoing civil proceedings dealing with specifically of the relationship between these parties or Girardi’s actions more generally,” the judge said.
Response from lawyers
Although the court did not grant all of the relief sought by the Edelson company, “we are pleased that the Court has found that we have proven that Girardi was ‘operating a Ponzi scheme with the client’s money,'” said Jay Edelson in an email.
“We look forward to continuing to do our part, through our civil affairs and public advocacy, to usher in much-needed reform,” Edelson said. “We hope that at some point the California Bar will stop being a shield protecting those who participated in Tom’s criminal scheme and instead do the job it was created to do.”
Edelson separately sued the firm, Girardi, Erika Girardi, attorneys David Lira and Keith Griffin and others, alleging they engaged in a Ponzi scheme that stole more than $100 million from clients, co-lawyers and others.
“Tom Girardi’s conduct and treatment of Lion Air customers is inexcusable. He should be held accountable for his actions as the sole owner and director of Girardi Keese,” Ryan Saba, with Rosen Saba LLP representing Griffin, said in an email. “Mr. Griffin is grateful that the victims of the Lion Air crash have been healed and sympathizes with the ordeal that has been imposed on them.
Michael D. Monico, with Monico & Spevack representing Girardi, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Durkin said Wednesday he was not credible Griffin and Lira, who is Girardi’s son-in-law, ‘were so completely unaware of prior disputes over client payments that they had no suspicion of conduct and motives of Girardi”.
“In short, it’s hard to believe that Griffin and Lira were unaware that Girardi was running a Ponzi scheme with clients’ money, which he in fact was,” the court said.
Edith R. Matthai, with Robie & Matthai representing Lira, said “we do not comment on the legal proceedings involving David”.
The case is In re Lion Air Flight JT 610 Crash, ND Ill., No. 1:18-cv-07686, opinion 11/2/22.