One of the two insurance companies that covered Alex Murdaugh in the wrongful death case brought against him in 2018 by the family of his longtime housekeeper filed a complaint last week in federal court, explaining why it can’t comply with a grand jury subpoena asking for records related to the case.
Murdaugh won’t let them.
The complaint offers a bit of more specific insight into what cases federal investigators might be looking at in the growing list of Murdaugh’s alleged schemes.
Nautilus Insurance Company paid $3.8 million of a secret $4.3 million settlement that was reached on behalf of Gloria Satterfield’s family in 2019, but never given to the family.
In fact, until FITSNews wrote about the settlement in July 2021 — which at the time was only understood to be $505,000 based on a single solitary record that was actually filed publicly in the case — the family was not aware the case had even been settled.
Satterfield died in a trip-and-fall “incident” at the Murdaugh family’s Moselle hunting property, the site of the June 2021 murders of Murdaugh’s wife and son.
Murdaugh has been jailed since October 2021 for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to steal the entirety of the family’s settlement. In March, his best friend, Beaufort attorney Cory Fleming — who represented the Satterfield family — was charged as a co-conspirator in the case.
According to the complaint, Nautilus provided Murdaugh with a $5 million policy for “umbrella coverage,” which provided extra coverage for Murdaugh beyond the limits of his other policies.
Murdaugh made a claim under the policy “with regard to claims against him purportedly on behalf of the estate of Ms. Satterfield.”
Nautilus, according to the complaint, paid “in excess” of $75,000 for defense counsel to represent Murdaugh in the claim.
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Then Nautilus started to find out about the “irregularities” in the case, along with the rest of the world in July.
“The irregularities suggested Murdaugh and others coordinated efforts to improperly obtain insurance money, leading the United States to investigate financial irregularities and serving a subpoena on Nautilus on February 8, 2022, for Nautilus’ files, including files over which Murdaugh may have claims of privilege (the files of the firm that defended Murdaugh in the Satterfield claims, Murphy & Grantland).”
Nautilus provided some documents to the federal grand jury, including notes and communications with counsel, the complaint says.
But when it asked Murdaugh’s attorneys in the case — from the Murphy and Grantland firm in Columbia — to advise them on whether Murdaugh was going to claim attorney-client privilege and prevent the release of other documents, they learned this was, in fact, going to be the case.
“Nautilus asked Murdaugh’s counsel for a privilege log, and no such log has been produced.”
Because Murdaugh’s “invocation of privilege has constrained Nautilus’ ability to respond to the subpoena,” Nautilus filed the complaint asking for resolution from the court.
Nautilus is also asking the court to “declare the rights and obligations of Murdaugh and Nautilus.”
Attached to the complaint are emails from Charleston attorney Drew Epting of Epting and Rannik to Murdaugh’s “bulldog” attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.
On Jan. 12 — weeks before the federal subpoena was served on Nautilus — Epting wrote this to Harpootlian (Note: Any typos and punctuation errors in the emails below are that of the authors and not this reporter):
First of all, congratulations to you and your wife on the ambassadorship to Slovenia. What a beauty country and a rich culture. On more mundane matters, the U.S. Attorney’s office wants the file that you authorized be released to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. I have inquired several times about it and ask that your client, Mr. Murdaugh, waive whatever, if any, privilege he may have in the materials previously provided to you. I am wearing out the patience of the U.S. Attorney’s office with my continued refrain of ‘I do not think producing the file will be a problem.’”
The next day, Harpootlian wrote back: “Let me check with Jim.”
About an hour later, Griffin wrote:
We cannot consent on behalf of Alex waive any privilege he may have pertaining to these files so that they can be used in a criminal investigation against him.
Epting responded: “Understood, and will advise USA. Will you prepare a log as many of these documents do not contain privileged material?”
Thus ends the communications included in the exhibit.NautilusComplaint