A special referee appointed by the South Carolina court system has determined that nine of fifteen claimants will receive a portion of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s assets. Or at least his known assets.
Murdaugh’s unknown assets? That’s another story …
The distribution announced this week from the special referee in the Murdaugh case allocates a percentage of roughly $1.76 million to individuals who collectively submitted $160 million worth of claims.
The receivership is an ongoing part of the wrongful death lawsuit filed in 2019 by the family of Mallory Beach, who was killed in a February 25, 2019 boat crash when a fishing vessel owned by Murdaugh and piloted by his late son – Paul Murdaugh – crashed into the piling of a bridge on Archer’s Creek in Beaufort County, S.C.
Paul Murdaugh and other passengers on the boat were “grossly intoxicated” at the time of the crash. As a result, he faced multiple counts of boating under the influence while his father and numerous other defendants were named in the wrongful death case.
The boat crash set off a chain reaction that ultimately exposed more than a decade of financial crimes – many of which Murdaugh has since pleaded guilty to committing. Prosecutors contend it ultimately led Murdaugh to brutally murder Paul – along with his own wife, Maggie Murdaugh – on June 7, 2021 at Moselle, the family’s hunting property in Colleton County.
As the scope of Murdaugh’s admitted financial misconduct became clear, a receivership controlling his assets was established by S.C. circuit court judge Daniel Hall. Attorneys John T. Lay and Peter M. McCoy were appointed to identify and liquidate the assets. When all was said and done, the aforementioned $1.76 million was what remained to compensate victims for their losses. The distribution process began last October when claimants were asked to file their information with the court to be considered for potential payment.
This week’s order from special referee L. Walter Tollison III specifies exactly how the money will be divided – and who will receive a portion. The order also spells out the factors taken into consideration to ensure the receivership was “equitably allocated” including: Actual financial loss, relevant circumstances and timing, nature of the harm, strength of the underlying legal claim, amount of money already recovered from other sources, whether any part of the loss could be attributable to the conduct or knowledge of the claimant, pending claims against other parties, how settlements with others affected the value of the receivership, the nature of the relationship between Murdaugh and claimant, agreements with others to share recovery, and the calculation of the claim.
Six of the claims were denied based on those factors. The remaining claimants were awarded a percentage of the balance after remaining legal fees have been paid.
The largest share – or 29 percent of the funds – are to be distributed to the estate of Mallory Beach, who filed the largest claim. The smallest share – or 0.2 percent of the funds – will go to Randy Drawdy, who also had the smallest claim. While the actual amount of the receivership after legal fees isn’t known, based on an estimate of $1.75 million, the largest payout would amount to $507,500 and the smallest would be $3,500.
The law firm where Murdaugh worked – formerly known as Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED) was awarded 14 percent, with the understanding it is contractually obligated to share its portion with several of Murdaugh’s former clients who are now represented by attorney Justin Bamberg. Those include: Christopher Anderson, Angel Gary (individually and as part of the estate of Blondell Gary), Johnny Bush, Natasha Thomas, Pamela Pinckney (individually and as part of the estate of Hakeem Pinckney), Jamian Risher and Malik Williams.
The percentage of funds PMPED will pay to each of these individuals was not disclosed.
Attorney Eric Bland – who represents some of the claimants who will not be receiving a portion of the funds – sounded off about the decision on social media.
“Fair, just and equitable? I don’t think so,” Bland wrote. “I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed my clients feel about yesterday’s ruling. Yes, the tort victims of the boat crash should have received the lion’s share of the funds from what was recovered, but certainly (my clients) should not have been blanked.”
THE ALLOCATION …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.
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