Judge approves Mallory Beach wrongful death lawsuit settlement for Buster, Maggie Murdaugh

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:28 PM EST
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - A judge has approved a settlement between the family of Mallory Beach, the young woman killed in a boat crash in 2019, and two of Alex Murdaugh’s family members, according to Beach family attorney Mark Tinsely.

Maggie and Buster Murdaugh’s names have been dropped from the lawsuit. Tinsley said in exchange, the victims - including Mallory Beach’s parents - will eventually be awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and feel like it was not only the best decision given the circumstances, but the only decision for all who had any real interest in the matter. We also believe the ruling will help give some closure to the people who so desperately deserve it,” Tinsley said.

PREVIOUS STORY >>> Chilling new details from 2019 boat crash that killed S.C. teen

The crash happened on February 24, 2019. Authorities said Paul Murdaugh was driving the boat that night and was responsible for Beach’s death. They said Paul Murdaugh drunkenly crashed his father’s boat into a bridge near Parris Island, killing beach and injuring others onboard. Search crews recovered Beach’s body a week later.

Later that year, in March 2019, Beach’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murdaugh’s and Parker’s. The lawsuit lists the estate of Maggie Murdaugh, who allegedly knew Paul was drunk when he went boating that night, and Buster Murdaugh, Paul’s older brother whose ID he allegedly used to buy the alcohol found on the boat after the crash, according the several court filings in the case. Officials said Paul Murdaugh used the ID at a Parker’s gas station hours before the crash.

Tinsley said he does not know exactly how much this settlement will award the victims of the crash, but predicts it will come out to roughly $700,000. That exact amount will depend on how much the Murdaugh’s Colleton County property sells for. That’s the same property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot to death in 2021.

This agreement also approves the settlement in lawsuits from two of the other boat crash victims, Morgan Doughty and Miley Altman. While they survived the 2019 crash, the pair filed identical personal injury lawsuits listing Buster and Maggie’s estate as defendants.

After years of litigation involving Maggie’s estate, the Beach family attorney said the estate has accrued approximately $290,000 in attorneys’ fees and dismissing it from the lawsuit would ensure there is money left over for his clients.

“If the receivers won, John Marvin Murdaugh (Maggie’s estate representative), would have to pay the fees, but the receivers would have taken a lot of what there is in fees,” attorney Mark Tinsely said. “If the receivers lost, the estate would have been eaten up by more fees. In either event, the victims would suffer,” Tinsely previously said.

This compromise and approval avoids that, according to Tinsely.

Parker’s Kitchen, where Paul bought alcohol prior to the crash, and its owner, Greg Parker, both defendants in the wrongful death lawsuit, alongside Palmetto State bank voiced their opposition to the agreement at a hearing in Lexington County in mid-January. Judge Hall’s approval rules against these objections.

Tinsley said it was important to Beach’s family that Buster Murdaugh be dropped from the lawsuit due to the tragic circumstances surrounding his mother and brother’s deaths. But he also said the ongoing wrongful death lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh, Paul Murdaugh, and Parker’s is far from over.

Stay with WTOC for updates.

A copy of the settlement agreement is below: