Zappos founder's self-described 'right hand person,' 'friend' sues estate for money owed, report says

911 call reveals last moments of former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh

A 911 dispatch recording reveals the response to a Connecticut home where Zappos founder Tony Hsieh died in a blaze

A former assistant and friend of Zappos founder Tony Hsieh has sued the now-deceased businessman’s estate claiming he had enlisted her and to do work for his budding film venture before he died and is now owed money, according to a report.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal was first to report Jennifer “Mimi” Pham’s pair of lawsuits – submitted weeks apart – against the estate of Hsieh, who died in November after a fire in New London, Conn.

In the most recent complaint, filed by attorneys on Friday in Nevada’s Clark County District Court, Pham argued that Hsieh had asked her to help him navigate a new venture in the documentary business through his company, Pickled Entertainment, LLC, according to the report. The pair signed a contract on Aug. 26, 2020, in which Pham, through her company, Mr. Taken, LLC, would “provide to [Hsieh’s] Company certain management and administrative support services,” according to court papers shared online by the Review-Journal.

In turn, Pham’s company was slated to receive 100% of the profits from each project, which would then benefit Hsieh because he had an interest in her company “by way of his own interest” in a company called Pickled Health, LLC, which was “a member of Mr. Taken, LCC,” court papers show.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – OCTOBER 08: Mimi Pham and Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh attend the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit Cockatil Party on October 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
((Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair))

OFFICIALS RELEASE 911 CALLS RELATED TO FIRE THAT KILLED TONY HSIEH

But Richard and Andrew Hsieh, Tony’s relatives and executives of his estate, allegedly suspended the business contract on Jan. 29, 2021, in a notice that “further directed that Mr. Taken, LLC, was therefore not permitted to communicate with third parties on behalf of Pickled Entertainment, LLC or to engage with counsel or other representatives of Pickled Entertainment,” according to the complaint.

According to Pham, Hsieh had also hired her to oversee his Park City, Utah property, dubbed “Big Moose Yacht Club,” for which she would manage space rentals and guests and had at one point worked with the city to secure a business license, according to the report. Much like that with Mr. Taken, the contract was cut short after Hsieh’s death.

A spokesperson for Hsieh’s family declined to comment when contacted by Fox News.

LAS VEGAS, NV – OCTOBER 31: Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh judges contestants during the fourth annual Las Vegas Halloween Parade on October 31, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

FIRE THAT KILLED TONY HSIEH POSSIBLY CAUSED BY ‘CARELESSNESS,’ ‘INTENTIONAL ACT’: OFFICIALS

Lawyers for Pham described her in both lawsuits as being Hsieh’s “assistant, right hand person, and friend for the seventeen years preceding his death,” according to the documents.

Pham’s earlier suit, which was filed on Jan. 20, alleged she had been contracted employees for Hsieh a company she co-managed, Baby Monster, LLC, and was, in turn, owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hsieh, 46, died on Nov. 27, 2020, nine days after a fire broke out at the New London, Conn. home where he and his friends, including his brother, were staying.

Late last month, investigators released several hypotheses surrounding the cause of the blaze, which ignited in the home’s pool room shortly before 3:30 a.m. Hsieh was “trapped” in the pool room, the investigation report states, by shed doors that were “locked with a single keypad deadbolt style lockset.”

Hsieh, 46, had been staying in the shed-like room after he and the homeowner and his rumored girlfriend, Rachael Brown, had an argument at roughly 11:30 p.m. the night before. She asked him to leave the property until they departed for Maui, and Hsieh relocated to the pool room. 

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    Photos show scene of fire that killed Zappos founder Tony Hsieh (New London Fire Department)((New London Fire Department))

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    New London Fire Department sketch shows approximate location of Tony Hsieh’s body at time of fire (New London Fire Department)((New London Fire Department))

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    Photos show scene of fire that killed Zappos founder Tony Hsieh (New London Fire Department)((New London Fire Department))

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    Photos show scene of fire that killed Zappos founder Tony Hsieh (New London Fire Department)((New London Fire Department))

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    Photo shows home where Zappos founder Tony Hsieh was staying at the time of fatal fire (New London Fire Department)((New London Fire Department))

The timeline shows his friends had been checking on him every 10 minutes, including when they told Hsieh it was time to go at 3:20 a.m. At the time, he responded: “Five more minutes.” 

ZAPPOS FOUNDER TONY HSIEH’S FAMILY GRANTED CONTROL OF ESTATE, MASSIVE FORTUNE

But by 3:21 a.m., the carbon monoxide detector’s alarm had been activated. By 3:24 a.m., a camera positioned at the shed’s entrance had failed because of the fire, the timeline indicates. The fire department was called at 3:26 a.m.

Just minutes earlier,  at 3:14 a.m., authorities said a crash could be heard inside the shed. 

It took six minutes from the first firetruck to arrive on scene for responders to get to Hsieh, the report notes. When firefighters found him, he was “in a supine position on a blanket” inside the shed.

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Hsieh was rushed to an area hospital, but ultimately could not be saved. His death was deemed accidental and caused by complications from smoke inhalation, officials previously said. 

Authorities reportedly do not believe there was criminality involved but said the cause of the fire is so far undetermined. Investigators identified four possible hypotheses, including that the “misuse of candles started this fire,” careless disposal of smoking materials or even whether “an intentional act by Hsieh” was to blame.

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