Days after attorney Eric Bland published a shocking paper trail showing how Alex Murdaugh‘s former best friend Cory Fleming was involved in the botched $4.3 million wrongful death settlement for Gloria Satterfield, the South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Fleming from practicing law due to evidence of misconduct that is under investigation.
According to the ruling signed by Judge Donald Beatty, Fleming was placed on suspension pursuant to Rule 17 B, which states that the S.C. Supreme Court can suspend any attorney “upon receipt of sufficient evidence demonstrating that a lawyer poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public or to the administration of justice.”
Yes, that is the same rule that got Alex Murdaugh suspended exactly a month before Cory’s suspension.
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Fleming represented Satterfield’s estate in the settlement against Murdaugh in 2018. Satterfield was Alex Murdaugh’s family housekeeper who died suspiciously in 2018 following a “trip and fall” incident at the Murdaugh’s home. The $4.3 million settlement that was signed by Judge Carmen Mullen was not entered into the public record — a major violation of court procedure.
While Fleming’s clients were entitled to receive $2.8 million of the settlement, they never received a dime — until last week.
On October 1, Fleming and his law firm Moss Kuhn & Fleming agreed to pay back “a significant amount of money” to Satterfield’s sons — but they only did that after nearly every major news outlet in the country reported on attorney Eric Bland‘s lawsuit that accused them of conspiring with Murdaugh in a scheme to steal millions of dollars from a grieving family.
“Mr. Fleming and his firm agreed that the estate will be paid back all legal fees and expenses Mr. Fleming and his law firm received from the $4,300,000 they recovered for the estate in connection with the claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Gloria Satterfied,” Bland said in a press release. “In addition, their malpractice insurance carrier agreed to pay to the estate their full policy limits of insurance.”
Fleming apparently turned on Alex Murdaugh and claimed that he and his law firm were duped by the disgraced attorney.
The Satterfield family was told that Gloria tripped on the steps at the Murdaugh’s home on February 2, 2018. They were told the Murdaughs’ dogs made her to trip – causing a fall which resulted in her sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
The lawsuit alleges that after Satterfield’s sudden death, which is now being investigated by SLED, Murdaugh concocted a plan to have his best friend (Fleming) represent her sons in a lawsuit against him.
The S.C. Supreme Court made the decision just one day after FITSNews published this story where we asked: “How is Cory Fleming — who was the Satterfields’ attorney in 2018 and failed almost every step in his duty to serve his clients — still able to practice law in South Carolina?”
Bland told FITSNews Friday afternoon that the S.C. Supreme Court’s move to suspend Fleming will help restore the public’s faith in the justice system.
“This is a very good day for the South Carolina Bar,” Bland said. “Over the past couple weeks the justice system has been strained but it has not broken. The rule of law and the rules of professional conduct will always prevail over lawyer misconduct.”
At Gloria’s funeral, Alex allegedly started railroading her sons and convinced them to hire his friend Cory Fleming to get money for their mother’s death, according to Bland.
However, Satterfield’s sons did not know that Fleming was Murdaugh’s best friend and former coworker.
He also convinced Gloria’s sons that they needed to have a banker (Westendorf) work as their personal representative of Gloria’s estate.
Bland told FITSNews that Fleming and Murdaugh did this so that Fleming would only be legally obligated to communicate with Westendorf about what was going on and did not have to tell Gloria’s sons about settlement money.
Bland later learned that Alex Murdaugh’s insurance company actually settled for more than $4.3 million — with $2.8 million that was supposed to go to his clients.
Murdaugh and Fleming apparently claimed they were doing a structured settlement for Satterfield’s sons, although this was never disclosed to the court. Essentially, this would work like a trust — instead of getting a lump sum, the plaintiff would receive more money over time with tax breaks.
Murdaugh claimed that he set up an annuity account for Satterfield’s sons through a company called Forge Consulting LLC.
“The only problem is Cory never got any documents from Forge and he’s taking direction from the defendant (Murdaugh), who tells him after you take your fees, write the check to “Forge” and send it to a P.O box in Hampton, South Carolina.”
Alex Murdaugh allegedly told Fleming to make checks out to “Forge” — not Forge Consulting LLC — after he set up an account with that name.
“Alex Murdaugh opened up a bank account at Bank of America under the name of Forge, got the check cashed and walked away with the money,” Bland said.
Documents filed Tuesday show emails and letters from Alex Murdaugh and his paralegals acting as representatives of the estate of Gloria Satterfield in the wrongful death settlement.
“PMPED sent letters of representation of the estate to third parties, prepared probate documents for the Estate and the Personal Representative of the estate, notarized probate documents and exchanged emails with Cory Fleming, also attorney for the Personal Representative and the beneficiaries of the Estate about the settlement funds,” the motion said.
The documents directly contradict a statement published by the firm on September 24 claiming that PMPED partners were “stunned” by media reports about the Satterfield fraud scheme.
A Perfect Storm
As a part of Fleming’s settlement agreement with the Satterfield estate, Bland agreed to issue a joint statement with Fleming’s lawyers Wednesday.
In the statement, Fleming apologized and claimed he was fooled by his friend Murdaugh, but acknowledged that “material mistakes were made at crucial times.”
Fleming claimed that “until early-September 2021, he sincerely believed that the settlement funds had been properly disbursed.”
Bland maintains that Cory Fleming made crucial mistakes throughout the Satterfield settlement — especially the fact that he defied Mullen’s order for disbursement of the funds when he listened to Alex Murdaugh and made the checks out to “Forge.”
“After Judge Mullen signed the order, everybody was a backstop for everybody else’s bad conduct,” Bland said. “But a perfect storm happened because everybody there was either a crook or was a moron. Those are the two choices that you have.”
Bland said that Fleming will have his chance to defend his charges and tell the S.C. Supreme Court that he was tricked by Alex Murdaugh.
“Corey Fleming is entitled to due process and to defend the charges that the disciplinary counsel may ultimately bring against him,” Bland said. “That is our system. I am proud that are Supreme Court acted with swiftness and certainty in this matter.”
This story will be updated.
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 tips to [email protected].
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