One month after his wife Maggie Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh were murdered, Alex Murdaugh filed a lawsuit in connection to a 2018 boat crash in Allendale County, South Carolina.
When Paul Murdaugh was murdered, he stood accused of three felony boating under the influence charges in connection with a 2019 Beaufort County boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Alex Murdaugh, who owned the boat, and his son Buster Murdaugh are two of three defendants in an ongoing lawsuit filed by Beach’s mother.
On July 9, Alex Murdaugh filed a lawsuit on behalf of his client Abigail Reanne Hiers, a Hampton, South Carolina teenager who was severely injured in a Savannah River boat crash on July 14, 2018. Hiers is suing John Speer, the alleged driver of the speedboat that ran over Hiers and her friend Sydney Doremus while they were on a sandbar.
Speer did not stop to check on the girls, who were severely injured in the crash, according to a GoFundMe page.
Instead, he turned himself in to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources four days after the crash, the Augusta Chronicle reported.
Speer was charged with two felony counts of failure to render aid in an accident with great bodily injury and two misdemeanor counts of reckless boating, according to court documents.
Speer is still awaiting trial in the 2018 boat crash. He faces up to 10 years in prison for each felony count and up to 30 days in jail for each misdemeanor charge.
Alex Murdaugh’s four-page lawsuit does not provide many details about the 2018 crash.
In the lawsuit, Speer is accused of operating the boat at a high rate of speed “in utter disregard for the safety of others on the river.”
He’s also accused of “failing to recognize the dangers of speeding around a blind curve” and “failing to slow down when approaching the sandbar.”
The girls each spent two weeks at the hospital where they both underwent surgery, according to the Augusta Chronicle.
Hiers “suffered serious and severe personal injuries including pain and suffering and permanent scarring, causing her to incur doctor and medical bills for hospitalization, doctor’s care, physical therapy and other medical necessities,” the lawsuit said.
According to the lawsuit, the accident derailed Hiers’ first year in college. She had to live in an apartment off campus that was closer her medical appointments.
On August 9, 2021, the lawsuit moved to federal court because the plaintiff and defendant are from different states.
The case is not abnormal for Alex Murdaugh — who specializes in personal injury cases. Alex Murdaugh has more than two decades of experience at Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) — the powerful law firm started by his great-grandfather in 1910.
For generations, Alex Murdaugh’s family acquired power and influence from both sides of the law through their prominent law firm and their elected positions. Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father all served as solicitors over a five-county region in the South Carolina Lowcountry from 1920-2006.
Mallory Beach Lawsuit
Mallory Beach’s mother Renee Beach — who is being represented by attorney Mark Tinsley — is seeking damages from Parker’s gas station, where Paul Murdaugh illegally purchased alcohol before the crash, as well as Alex and Buster Murdaugh. In the lawsuit, Alex is accused of enabling Paul’s underage drinking habits, while Buster is accused of allowing his brother Paul Paul to use his ID for drinking.
According to SCDNR, Murdaugh was driving 29 mph in the dark twisted waterway of Archer’s Creek seconds before crashing into a piling just outside of Parris Island. Mallory Beach was ejected in the crash and her body was found a week later. Two other passengers were injured.
An hour and a half after the crash, Paul Murdaugh’s BAC was three times over the legal limit.
A hearing in that wrongful death lawsuit was scheduled for June 10 — three days after the murders.
At that hearing, a judge was supposed to rule on a number of motions in the case, including:
- Requiring Alex and Buster Murdaugh to disclose their financial records
- Forcing Parker’s to produce evidence in the case
- Moving the case from Hampton County to Beaufort County, where the crash took place.
That hearing also could have resulted in Paul and Maggie Murdaugh being added to the lawsuit, according to FITSNews sources.
The Murdaughs have a $500,000 insurance policy for their boat, according to court documents accompanying Tinsley’s motion. In addition, they have two other insurance policies with Philadelphia Indemnity that cap out at $6 million.
In a separate lawsuit, Philadelphia Indemnity is suing Richard Alexander (Alex) Murdaugh and Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr. in federal court. The insurance company filed the suit in 2019 formally denying coverage associated with the boat crash lawsuit.
Two other insurance companies – QBE Specialty and Homeowners of America – have denied Alex Murdaugh coverage in the lawsuit.
Double Homicide Investigation
The next day, a source close to the investigation told FITSNews founding editor Will Folks that Alex Murdaugh was still considered “a person of interest” in the investigation. Another source said he had “not been excluded.”
In June, a Good Morning America journalist who spoke with the Murdaugh family reported that Alex was taking his father Randolph Murdaugh III — who died of cancer three days after the murders — to the hospital on the day of the killings. After that, he reportedly checked in on his mother before returning to the hunting property, known locally as Moselle. This could be the “ironclad” alibi Alex Murdaugh is said to have provided police.
Also last week, a source told FITSNews that at least one of the weapons used in the double homicide belonged to the Murdaugh family.
FITSNews recently obtained Paul Murdaugh’s death certificate, which confirmed Paul Murdaugh was killed by two shotgun blasts to the head and chest.
This news outlet has yet to obtain a death certificate for 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, who was reportedly shot and killed by a semi-automatic rifle at or around the time her son was killed.
More than two weeks after the murders, a public relations firm hired by the Murdaugh family released a statement announcing a $100,000 reward to anyone providing tips that lead to arrests by law enforcement. However, tips must be submitted before September 30, 2021 to qualify for the reward.
Since the reward was offered in late June, the Murdaugh family has not made any public statements about the murders.
No arrests have been made in the double homicide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.