A fiery motion was filed in the South Carolina fourteenth circuit on Tuesday by attorneys representing convicted killer Alex Murdaugh in a multi-million dollar ‘Murdaugh Murders’ civil case. The motion – filed by attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – is seeking a court order vacating a judgment confessed by Murdaugh last year in favor of the family of Gloria Satterfield.
According to Harpootlian and Griffin, the judgment for $4.3 million should be vacated because of alleged misconduct by plaintiffs’ attorneys/ podcasters Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter.
The filing is the latest development in a caustic legal battle that could conceivably jeopardize the legal fees Bland and Richter have collected in connection with Satterfield’s case – which totals at least $7.5 million.
Satterfield – a longtime domestic worker for the Murdaugh family – died as a result of a fall on the front steps of the Murdaugh family hunting property, known locally as Moselle.
Murdaugh claimed his family’s dogs caused Satterfield to trip and fall on the morning of Friday, February 2, 2018. Satterfield passed away three-and-a-half weeks later. Murdaugh’s unsubstantiated claim about the dogs – and his oddly specific insistence that Satterfield came to the residence to pick up a check as opposed to arriving for work – were key components of fraudulent insurance payouts and other claims related to this case.
On May 1, 2023, Murdaugh belatedly acknowledged “no dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018.”
“(Murdaugh) invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported statement that dogs caused her fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment, and he stated that she was not on the property to perform work,” Harpootlian and Griffin alleged.
Had Satterfield been arriving to work (as others have stated she was), her accident would have been considered a workplace injury.
Bland and Richter pushed back against this revelation in a live press conference on Facebook earlier this month – accusing Harpootlian and Griffin of manipulating the media in an effort to re-victimize the Satterfields. They also released an investigative report (.pdf) related to Satterfield’s death and an audio recording of Alex Murdaugh’s original interview with insurance investigators on March 29, 2018 – a recording this news outlet first published in its entirety back in March of this year.
An excerpt from that interview was first featured in the Netflix documentary ‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.’
(Click to view)
“We believe that the press and the public are being played here,” Bland said in response to Murdaugh’s admission. “Because legally and factually (Harpootlian and Griffin) are 100 percent wrong.”
Are they, though?
In the motion (.pdf) filed today, Harpootlian and Griffin struck back – accusing Bland of engaging “in a concerted campaign of prejudicial and extrajudicial statements, as well as inflammatory rhetoric in the courtroom when Mr. Murdaugh sought bail, and then offered to stop when Mr. Murdaugh again sought bail if he would simply confess judgment for a ‘symbolic’ amount of ‘monopoly money.'”
That latter quote is a reference to a December 7, 2021 email in which Bland told Harpootlian and Griffin “I have to have this” – referring to the confession of judgment.
“It’s monopoly money,” Bland wrote.
According to the two attorneys, Bland then “enticed” Murdaugh into making this confession by offering “not to oppose Murdaugh’s request for bond at (an) upcoming bond hearing” before S.C. circuit court judge Alison Lee.
In other words, if Murdaugh agreed to put Bland and Richter’s clients at the front of the line to recover damages from him – at the expense of other victims – they would not oppose his bond.
Harpootlian and Griffin’s motion also got to the heart of the argument about money paid out to the family of Gloria Satterfield by other parties named in the lawsuit – claiming the confessed judgement “only harms Mr. Murdaugh’s other victims.”
“The Satterfield family alleges Mr. Murdaugh stole approximately $4.3 million from them,” Harpootlian and Griffin wrote. “The truth is that he stole it from Lloyd’s of London and Nautilus.”
Which is Bland and Richter’s bigger problem …
(Click to view)
”Banks and others paid restitution for the money Mr. Murdaugh stole because they realized they might share some liability with Mr. Murdaugh for his thefts,” the filing continued. “They paid the restitution to the Satterfield family and their lawyers not as a gift or expression of sympathy, but because they thought Mr. Murdaugh stole their money. Had they known the money was stolen from someone else, they would have paid that someone else.”
Bland and Richter responded indignantly to Harpootlian and Griffin’s filing. According to a joint statement issued by the two lawyers, the pleading was “yet another filing in a long line of rolls of legal toilet paper that Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin have filed in the multitude of civil and criminal actions on behalf of their client who is a liar, a thief and a twice convicted murderer.”
Bland and Richter added that “this motion is nothing more than the endless and non-stop prattle of sore losing lawyers,” accusing Harpootlian and Griffin of attributing “thoughts and motives of others like somehow they have telepathy.”
“This is personal,” Bland and Richter’s statement concluded. “Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin are improperly utilizing the judicial process for ulterior motives that are meant to harass and victimize the Satterfields again and constitutes vexatious conduct. I don’t mind these attorneys taking shots at us. Comes with the territory. They are upset that they do not get $160,000 for Murdaugh’s appeal as a result of arguments that Bland Richter recently made. They are nothing but paper bullies. We will continue to fight them in every courtroom in the land to obtain justice for our Clients and stop their gaming of the system.”
THE FILING …2023-05-16-murdaughs-rule-60b-relief-from-judgment-unfiled
(Via: S.C. Fourteenth Judicial Circuit)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is the director of research at FITSNews. She is also a producer on our Cheer Incorporated podcast and our resident expert on the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga. Wood is a wife and mother of two residing in Louisiana, but she will be in the Palmetto State for the duration of the upcoming double homicide trial. Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at [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.
I have no idea about the legal issues involved in this particular lawsuit. But I do know that the Bland-Richter law firm has consistently gone to great lengths to convince the public and the media that Gloria Satterfield’s “fall” and subsequent death were not caused by “criminal activity” on the part of Alex Murdaugh. In other words, it was not a premeditated assault or murder as part of a planned scheme to collect millions of dollars in insurance proceeds and then steal it from Satterfield family.
… continuing from above: At one point, SLED theoretically opened an official investigation into the CAUSE of Gloria Satterfield’s death. The investigation had proceeded to a point where SLED was in the process of exhuming Gloria’s body to determine the actual cause of her mortal injuries. Now the investigation seems to have fallen through the cracks, due in no small part to the efforts of Bland-Richter attorneys to portray her death as a “slip and fall” accident … with no crime involved WHATSOEVER in her physical harm. Hopefully SLED is still investigating, as the entire timeline of Gloria’s accident is NOTHING other than the version Alex Murdaugh presented to law enforcement and insurance “investigators”. Yesterday on a popular and well-respected podcast (Murdaugh Family Murders), one of the most respect attorneys in South Carolina expressed considerable skepticism that the entire situation was not premeditated, based on the similarities of alibis and timeline “lies” between Murdaugh’s account of Gloria’s accident and the horrific murders of his wife at son. So there’s that …
Harpo and Jimbo have hit bottom and rented an excavator. Under SC law, Elick didn’t have enough employees for workers comp to be an issue, his normal homeowner’s policy would have covered the fall as it did.
As it is, Harpo and Jimbo are telling a tale,
Told by idiots, full of sound and fury,
Dick and Jim are continuing to act as “fixers” and not as professional attorneys. Their actions mirror everything a fixer-attorney of the Mafia does. I’m sure they are being paid handsomely to discredit their reputations. Sadly, the reputations of their associate attorneys will be hurt as well.
This is one big pissing contest between Bland and Harpootlian/Griffin.
Congratulations to FITSNews on being cited in the legal documents as a news source.
When would the lies told by Jim & Dick become aiding & abetting?
I have never seen stories change so much!