Attorneys for all parties in a high-profile boat crash that left a young woman dead and helped launch the discovery of the Murdaugh crime saga in South Carolina have responded to the recent $18 million in multiple lawsuit settlements reached over the weekend in the 2019 fatal boating incident involving notorious convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh and his late son, Paul.
Attorneys for multiple plaintiffs confirmed that, after a nearly day-long mediation session on Sunday, July 16, a number of settlement agreements totaling $18 million were signed and await court approval.
After a circuit court judge denied motions to change venue and sever defendants Alex Murdaugh and Gregory M. Parker/Parker’s Corporation, a mediation meeting was held at 10 a.m. Sunday at the law offices of mediating attorneys Clawson and Staubes, LLC, in Charleston.
The settlements were signed off for the wrongful death suit filed by the family and estate of Mallory Beach, who died in the February 2019 Beaufort County boat crash, as well as the subsequent personal injury lawsuits filed by the surviving boaters, Anthony Cook, who was Mallory’s boyfriend at the time of her death, Connor Cook, Miley Altman, and Morgan Doughty.
Beach family attorneys confirmed that their settlement was $15 million, and other attorneys involved in the case confirmed that the total of all settlements was $18 million.
Now, attorneys for all parties have issued statements in response to the settlements.
Attorneys for Parker’s say they are ‘disappointed’ in disclosures
Gregory M. Parker and his Parker’s Corporation were named as co-defendants in these lawsuits, and were accused of illegally selling alcohol to Paul Murdaugh and the underaged boaters.
After the mediation, which took most of the day, PK Shere, attorney for the Parker’s defendants, issued a statement around 10 p.m. Sunday through a spokesperson.
“It is disappointing that the contents of settlement discussions have been disclosed today counter to the mediation agreement that was signed by all who participated.
“Recently, the court ruled that Parker’s would be tethered to Alex Murdaugh at the upcoming trial. The fact remains that Tajeeha Cohen made a legal and valid sale, as was determined by SLED. This case was never about that legal and valid sale nor was it about the repeated bad decisions that these young adults made that night. For Mark Tinsley, it was all about using the Murdaughs’ bad actions and the unfair law of joint and several liability in South Carolina to make Parker’s pay for a verdict intended to punish the Murdaughs. Given the outsized publicity this case has received, being tethered to a convicted murderer all but ensured Parker’s would not receive a fair trial.
“The application of the joint and several liability law in South Carolina meant that, if Parker’s was found even 1% at fault, it would have paid for the entirety of any verdict rendered against the Murdaugh family. The unfairness of that caused Parker’s insurance carriers to resolve these suits to avoid paying the likely award intended to punish Alex Murdaugh.
“This marks the conclusion of all the boat crash cases. We sincerely hope that all involved parties will find some measure of closure.”
A spokesperson for Parker’s added that they were disappointed due to the fact that details of the settlements were disclosed early Sunday afternoon, despite the fact that as of 9 p.m. not all parties had signed off on the agreement.
According to the statement, Parker’s insurance carriers paid the settlements. Gregory M. Parker personally has not paid anything to resolve these cases, nor has he admitted fault in the matter.
Mark Tinsley, attorney for Beach, other victims, responds
According to Beach family attorney Mark Tinsley, the family will receive a settlement of $15 million in their wrongful death suit against Parker’s convenience store.
The settlement halts the wrongful death civil trial scheduled for Aug. 14 in Hampton County.
Tinsley said the Beach family purposefully wanted the details of the settlement to be made public. The Allendale attorney issued a statement Sunday night, then issued a follow-up statement on Monday:
“The settlements with the gas station demonstrate, to use Parker’s word, an ‘exoneration’ of the young people in the boat that Parker so readily blames. Underage drinking is a serious and costly problem. Blaming the kids won’t solve the problem. The people who enable underage drinking must be stopped. It’s shameful that nearly 2 people per week die in this state alone as a result of underage drinking. The Beach family believes this settlement will serve as a warning to all the Parker’s of the world, who might make an illegal sale of alcohol to a minor, that they will be held to account for their wrongful conduct if they do. These settlements won’t bring Mallory back, but we hope they do save someone else’s son or daughter. “
“The sun is much brighter in Hampton County for several people this morning.”
Joseph M. McCulloch Jr., attorney for Connor Cook
Tinsley also represents two of the surviving boaters, Miley Altman and Morgan Doughty, who both filed parallel personal injury lawsuits after the crash. While both Altman and Doughty received settlements Sunday, the amounts were undisclosed.
“All of those kids have been put through a lot, and they are happy and relieved that they are done with this case,” said Tinsley.
Beach died in February 2019 after a boat owned by convicted family killer, Alex Murdaugh, and allegedly piloted by his intoxicated son, Paul Murdaugh, crashed into bridge structures along Archers Creek in Beaufort County.
Mallory’s mother, Renee Beach, filed the first version of a wrongful death suit against Murdaugh and other parties they felt were responsible for her daughter’s death in March of 2019. While Paul Murdaugh was criminally charged, he was murdered, along with his mother, Maggie, before he could stand trial.
Attorney for Connor Cook confirms $1 million settlement, responds
Attorney Joseph M. McCulloch Jr., who represents surviving boater Connor Cook, confirmed that his client’s share of the $18 million was $1 million.
“Seeing this case settled was a tremendous relief for Connor and his family, and a tremendous relief for Miley Altman and her family,” said McCulloch. “Connor and Miley, who were dating at the time of the boat crash, are now the proud parents of a two-month-old child. They are so pleased to have this burden relieved, and now having this nest egg is a wonderful benefit to both of them. The sun is much brighter in Hampton County for several people this morning.”
Attorney for Anthony Cook says suit was about supporting Beach family
Patrick Carr, attorney for surviving boater Anthony Cook, who was dating Mallory at the time of her death, confirmed that Anthony will also receive a $1 million settlement.
“For us the case was never solely about money,” said Carr. “Our mission from Day One was to support the Beach family and do everything possible to foster civil justice for Mallory Beach, but no amount of money will ever bring Mallory back or replace the harms and losses of these young people. We hope that the conclusion of these cases will be a signal to alcohol retailers that they have a responsibility to sell alcohol in a safe and responsible manner, and if they fail to do that they will be held accountable for their wrongdoing.”
Follow Michael DeWitt’s reporting as The Hampton County Guardian/Greenville News and the USA Today Network continue to follow this developing legal case, and you can follow DeWitt on Facebook and on Twitter at @mmdewittjr for the latest updates.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Murdaugh saga: Boaters’ attorneys, Parker respond to Beach settlement
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