Erika Girardi Claims Bankruptcy Lawyer Made 'Vicious' False Statements About Her on Social Media
In a new motion, Erika Girardi’s legal team asks the court to reconsider appointing Ronald Richards as a bankruptcy trustee lawyer given his social media posts about the RHOBH star
Erika Girardi's legal team has responded to a previous motion claiming that the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was refusing to turn over "key documents" in a bankruptcy case facing her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, and his law firm, Girardi & Keese.
According to court records obtained by PEOPLE, Erika's lawyers are asserting that she "has been and remains willing to cooperate fully with the Trustee's investigation in this bankruptcy of debtor Girardi & Keese."
In addition to responding to the claims that she has not been cooperative, the reality star has requested that the court reconsider its decision to appoint attorney Ronald Richards as the special counsel to the trustee in the bankruptcy case, accusing him of making "false and inflammatory" statements about her on social media.
Erika, the new motion says, "is not a media fiction. She is a real person with rights, including the right to be treated fairly in these proceedings based on actual evidence and the law."
It goes on to claim that Richards has engaged in "vicious, conclusory, and speculative public vilification – all without evidence, which even if it existed, should and must be presented to and adjudicated by this Court."
In a statement shared with PEOPLE, Richards called the motion a "Hollywood attempt to create a smoke screen to slow down our work" and said his social media posts were protected by free speech.
"Had there been any restrictions by the Court on free speech, they would have been adhered to, as all court orders are by our office," his statement said, adding that the court previously rejected a gag order request from Erika's team and said during a recent hearing that he "has a right to express his views."
"We are representing the Trustee on a limited basis relating to Erika Jayne," Richards continued. "We only need to zealously pursue our client's litigation objectives which is to find the money and recover it. Attacking the Trustee's choice of counsel who is doing an effective job and working hard is a poorly designed strategy. The real issue is the large receivables to Erika Jayne and the money she is refusing to release or return, period."
Attorneys for Erika did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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The motion included screenshots of Richards' many social media posts, including one that asserted that Erika's estranged husband Tom "is basically legally dead." (Tom has been diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer's disease. His younger brother, Robert, has been named as a conservator over his person and estate.)
In a YouTube video, Richards also said he doesn't "think [Erika's] personality is consistent with compliance in a court setting."
Richards "has continued to harass Ms. Girardi publicly through extra-judicial statements, including social media, this new evidence should be considered and the Order granting Mr. Richards's approval to act as special litigation should be vacated," Erika's lawyers claim in the new motion.
"Mr. Richards's thinly veiled attempt to shield himself from the consequences of his improper conduct by framing some of his comments as his 'opinion' is irrelevant," it continues. "Mr. Richards's public statements and speculation about this matter on Twitter are improper for any attorney – especially one appointed as special litigation counsel before this Court – and violates the ethical rules, yet it is taken as fact by his 16,000+ 'followers' on social media."
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The bankruptcy case in question came about after Tom and his firm 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 a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in December — one month after Erika filed for divorce.
Amid the bankruptcy and multiple lawsuits, Erika and Tom have also been accused of using their divorce to protect their money. Tom has not responded to any of the lawsuits in court.