Murdaugh family members could be dropped from lawsuit after 2019 boat crash

After a 2019 boat crash with ties to a prominent Lowcountry family left a teenager dead, two defendants listed in a wrongful death lawsuit could be dropped.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 8:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 4:51 PM EST
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HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - After a 2019 boat crash with ties to a prominent Lowcountry family left a teenager dead, two defendants listed in a wrongful death lawsuit related to the incident could be dropped.

Mallory Beach was 19 years old when she died following a boat crash, where the son of disbarred and disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh was allegedly drunk and driving the boat. His son, Paul, was charged with Beach’s death but was shot and killed, along with his mother, Maggie, as he was awaiting trial.

Beach’s family filed the wrongful death suit in March 2019, a little more than a month after the crash. The lawsuit lists the estate of Maggie Murdaugh, who allegedly knew Paul was drunk when he went boating that night, and Buster Murdaugh, Paul’s older brother whose ID he allegedly used to buy the alcohol found on the boat after the crash.

Now, the attorney for the Beach family says an agreement has been reached between parties that, if approved, will result in the dismissal of Buster and Maggie’s estate.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

After years of litigation involving Maggie’s estate, the Beach Family attorney says the estate has accrued approximately $290,000 in attorneys’ fees and dismissing it from the lawsuit would ensure there is money left over for his clients.

“If the receivers won, John Marvin Murdaugh (Maggie’s estate representative), would have to pay the fees, but the receivers would have taken a lot of what there is in fees,” attorney Mark Tinsely says. “If the receivers lost, the estate would have been eaten up by more fees. In either event, the victims would suffer,” Tinsely says.

This compromise avoids that, according to Tinsely.

“Court approval is one of the contingencies of the agreement, along with Palmetto State Bank’s agreement to abide by the deal it struck with the co-receivers,” Tinsely says. “Hopefully, both of those things will occur.”

If approved, the settlement agreement would drop Maggie and Buster from other lawsuits surrounding the boat crash as well as divide Maggie’s estate as follows:

  • The Personal Representative (John Marvin Murdaugh) will pay the Estate’s outstanding legal fees and other administration expenses, which are estimated to be approximately $290,000.
  • The Personal Representative will pay $6,511.52 to Laura Jones, LLC in satisfaction of her outstanding creditor claim against the Estate.
  • The Personal Representative hereby waives the right to any Personal Representative’s fee.
  • The Personal Representative will pay $12,305.28 to himself in reimbursement of his personal funds he advanced on behalf of the Estate and in satisfaction of his outstanding creditor claim against the Estate.
  • This Agreement is contingent upon the outstanding creditor claim of Palmetto State Bank being resolved, released and satisfied for a payment of no more than $25,000.00 and, if accepted, will be paid by the Personal Representative.
  • The Personal Representative will distribute $530,000 to Buster Murdaugh as sole devisee of the Estate.
  • The Personal Representative will pay $100,000 to Joseph M. McCulloch, Esquire, as attorney for Connor Cook (a surviving boat crash passenger), on behalf of and in settlement of the suit against Richard Alexander Murdaugh, Jr.
  • The Personal Representative will pay $275,000.00 to the Co-Receivers in settlement of the Fraudulent Conveyance Claim to be held in the common fund under the custody and control of the Co-Receivers. The Conveyance claim relates to Alex’s transfer of the family’s Moselle property to Maggie, which attorneys John T. Lay and Peter McCoy have claimed in the past is fraudulent.
  • The Personal Representative will distribute the remaining balance of the Estate bank account to Mark B. Tinsley, Esquire on behalf of Renee Beach as Personal Representative for the Estate of Mallory Beach, Morgan Doughty and Miley Altman. The intent of this Agreement is to liquidate the remaining Estate assets and distribute the proceeds to Mark B. Tinsley, Esquire on behalf of his clients. The Estate will retain all intangible assets, including but not limited to, image and likeness, publication rights and choses in action. Such assets shall remain property of the Estate.

The agreement details John Marvin Murdaugh, as personal representative of Maggie’s estate, must sell the Murdaugh’s Colleton County Moselle property, as well as furniture, as soon as possible and deposit the funds into Maggie’s estate.

John Marvin will additionally sign and deliver the title to Alex’s 2021 Mercedes to attorney Mark Tinsely, who will then sell the car once it is released from the state’s Attorney General’s Office, according to the agreement. It’s the same vehicle Murdaugh was driving during a failed suicide-for-hire attempt.

The settlement has yet to be ruled on in court or approved by the bank.