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Judge OKs settlement of ex-aide’s claims against Tony Hsieh’s estate

A judge on Thursday approved a settlement agreement between Tony Hsieh’s estate and his longtime assistant, who has agreed to pay his family instead of pursing millions of dollars in creditor’s claims.

“The settlement agreement intends that there be no admissions by any of the parties involved,” Richard Schonfeld, an attorney for Hsieh’s assistant, Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, told District Judge Gloria Sturman.

Pham and her boyfriend, Roberto Grande, have agreed to pay $750,000 to Hsieh’s family, according to the settlement agreement filed Dec. 30. Pham and Hsieh’s estate also plan to drop their respective claims against one another in other lawsuits.

Hsieh died on Nov. 26 at age 46 from injuries suffered in a Connecticut house fire. His father, Richard, and brother Andrew are overseeing the estate of the former Zappos boss.

Much of the legal battle over Hsieh’s estate has centered around Pham, who, in court filings by her lawyers, was described as Hsieh’s right-hand person and friend for 17 years.

The largest creditor’s claim she filed was for $75 million in “anticipated profit” from Hsieh’s venture in the documentary-movie streaming service Documentary+ that launched in January.

Attorneys for Hsieh’s family have claimed in previous filings that Pham, her boyfriend and Hsieh’s financial manager, Tony Lee, were aware that the tech mogul was “physically and mentally unwell” in his final years, when he was using ketamine and nitrous oxide.

Pham, Grande and Lee encouraged Hsieh to pursue “impulsive, poorly planned” or “incoherent” investments to turn Park City, Utah, into a “mecca for creatives,” his family alleged.

Lee has filed his own lawsuit against Hsieh’s estate, stating that he had known Hsieh for years and began working for him in 2020. The lawsuit claimed that Lee’s limited liability company was owed almost $6.9 million in compensation under a guaranteed contract.

Liane Wakayama, who represents Lee’s limited liability company, said the settlement agreement approved Thursday does not mean that Pham and Grande admit to any allegations made in Lee’s lawsuit.

Other creditor’s claims in Hsieh’s probate case include a $40,000 claim for a custom “ceiling brain prototype;” an $8.7 million claim from a Texas-based travel, fitness and wellness company for consulting work; and a $12.5 million claim from a man who said he was to be paid $450,000 a year under a loosely defined job title that included working on “random projects like koi fish or tree houses.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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