The Bravo-verse was shocked when Erika Jayne not only announced that she and her husband, lawyer Tom Girardi, were divorcing after 21 years of marriage, but that Tom was also charged with stealing or misappropriating over $13 million in settlements meant for his clients. He has since lost his law license, been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and placed under a conservatorship, per the Los Angeles Times. Given his reputation as a lawyer who fights for “the little guy,” it was all the more surprising that Girardi was allegedly taking settlements away from victims of tragic accidents, including the 2018 Lion Air plane crash, per Today. After all, this is the guy who inspired the Julia Roberts movie “Erin Brockovich.”
Wait, what? Yes, if you didn’t already know, the 2000 film — based on the real-life story of Erin Brockovich, a legal clerk who helped residents of Hinkley, Calif. win a $333 million settlement from Pacific Gas & Electric for contaminating their groundwater — has to do with Tom Girardi. Well, how so? Read on to find out.
Tom Girardi once stood up for victims
Tom Girardi was the actual, real-life attorney who stepped in to help Erin Brockovich get justice for the residents of Hinkley, Calif. back in 1993. However, if you’re looking for him in the movie, you won’t find a guy named Girardi in the Julia Roberts film “Erin Brockovich.” Instead, they turned the Girardi character into a fellow named Kurt Potter, played by Peter Coyote. However, Girardi was an advisor on the film and was closely involved with turning the true story into an Oscar-winning motion picture.
As he told Attorney At Law Magazine, “Peter Coyote played me. I was on the set every day and it was a true story. The thing that was good about it was that it did bring up a subject that nobody really gave any thought to before that time and obviously to see Julia Roberts five days a week wasn’t too bad either.”
So if you’re looking for Tom in the movie, don’t bother. But he was there! It’s hard to think that the same man who actually helped secure a $333 million settlement for people whose groundwater had been contaminated would later be accused of stealing millions of dollars of settlement money from other victims who’d came to his firm looking for help. But getting to the bottom of the charges against him is all anyone can do now.
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