Las Vegas Investor Tony Hsieh’s Former Assistant Sues Over Contract Claims

A former assistant and friend of Tony Hsieh is involved in lawsuits against the late Las Vegas investor’s family. 

Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, Tony Hsieh
Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, Tony Hsieh
Jennifer “Mimi” Pham, left, and Tony Hsieh pose for a photographer at an event. Pham has taken the tech guru’s family to court over breach of contract claims. (Image: Forbes)

Jennifer “Mimi” Pham claims that contracts regarding some of his businesses were not honored, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Hsieh died in November from complications caused by smoke inhalation in a Connecticut house fire. He was 46.

A court document states Hsieh selected Pham to provide management services for a possible venture into documentary filmmaking, the newspaper reported.

After his death, a Las Vegas judge named Hsieh’s father, Richard, and brother, Andrew, as coexecutors of his estate. The estate is estimated at $840 million. Tony Hsieh was unmarried.

According to a court filing Friday, Hsieh’s father and brother issued a notice last month to suspend the contract. 

Pham also asserts she had a contract to manage one of Hsieh’s properties in Park City, Utah, as an events space. Hsieh’s brother notified authorities he and a property management firm would take over in that matter, the Review-Journal reported. 

Hsieh had moved to the Utah ski resort town after retiring as CEO of Las Vegas-based Zappos in August. A witness at the Connecticut house said Hsieh retired over mental health issues and a mid-life crisis, according to a report cited in the Hartford Courant.  

A separate lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court in January contends that Baby Monster LLC, a firm Pham co-managed, is owed unpaid fees.

This lawsuit states that the relationship between Hsieh and Pham was so close that he used her cellphone account for his main phone number. According to the court filing, she was his “assistant, right-hand person, and friend” for 17 years. The two shared the same address on their driver’s licenses, the filing states.

Investigation Details

Police and fire reports released last month offer more insight into the events that led to Hsieh’s death at a waterfront residence in New London, Connecticut. On Nov. 18, firefighters at the home removed an unresponsive Hsieh from an attached storage shed where there had been a fire.

Hsieh had been in the shed with “nitrous oxide canisters, a marijuana pipe, a bottle of liquor, candles, cigarettes and a propane heater,” according to the Hartford Courant.

Fire investigators said they believed Hsieh was intoxicated when he went into the shed. He went there after arguing with the home’s owner, Rachael Brown, described either as his friend or girlfriend, the Hartford Courant reported. Hsieh had been told to leave the house.

People who were at the house told investigators Hsieh was “distraught” that his dog had died several days earlier. However, the friends said they did not think Hsieh would intentionally hurt himself. While he was in the shed, friends brought him water, food, pizza, protein shakes, cigarettes, and Whip-It! canisters, which contain nitrous oxide, the newspaper reported.

The two-month fire investigation did not pinpoint what caused the blaze. The report indicates that candles, a propane heater, improperly discarded cigarettes or marijuana, and “accidental or intentional actions” could have ignited the fire, the Hartford Courant reported.

Honored in Las Vegas

Hsieh and others had planned to fly that day on a private aircraft to Maui, Hawaii. He reportedly had planned to check into a rehabilitation center there.

Nine days after the fire, he died at a burn unit in a Bridgeport, Connecticut, hospital. 

After his death, he was honored with a video display on the canopy covering the Fremont Street pedestrian mall in downtown Las Vegas. Hsieh is credited with spending millions to revive a neglected part of downtown near the casino district.

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