Settlement Reaches In Suit Claiming Millions Owed Murdaugh Housekeeper’s Sons
Post & Courier (Charleston, SC)
The sons of a former housekeeper for the prominent Murdaugh family will be paid some of $4.3 million in settlements collected after their mother's mysterious 2018 death, their attorney wrote on Oct. 3.
Cory Fleming and his law firm, Moss, Kuhn and Fleming, will pay the sons all legal fees and expenses the firm received from settlements connected to claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Satterfield, according to a statement by the Bland Richter law firm.
Ronnie Richter, their attorney, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 15 alleging the sons were not included in settlement talks related to their 57-year-old mother's death. Fleming represented the sons in a lawsuit against Murdaugh in connection with their mother's death.
The Oct. 3 statement did not specify how much money the sons would be receiving from Fleming and his firm.
The payout comes after Richter said on Sept. 17 that a court order indicated the sons were entitled to about $2.7 million settlement in connection with Satterfield's death - which totaled $4.3 million including legal fees - and not a cent had gone to her sons.
The order was signed by a circuit judge, but was never filed in the court system, Richter said.
The lawsuit claimed that Alex Murdaugh - a well-known attorney in the southern tip of the state - introduced one of the sons to attorney Fleming and encouraged him to ask Fleming to represent him and his brother in a lawsuit against Murdaugh.
The brothers were unaware that Fleming was a former college roommate of Murdaugh and the godfather to one of his sons, according to the suit. It accuses Murdaugh and Fleming of conspiring against the sons.
In addition, Fleming and his firm's malpractice insurance carrier agreed to pay to the sons' their full policy limits, Richter wrote Oct. 3.
"Mr. Fleming stepped forward and did the right thing by the Estate," according to the Oct. 3 statement.
Richter said on Sept. 17 more than $1.4 million was set aside for attorney's fees. He said it was not clear who was supposed to receive that money.
Court records show a proposed $505,000 settlement in the case, but not a final signed order approving the arrangement, the lawsuit states.
Richter said one of Satterfield's sons, Tony, was originally the personal representative for the estate but he was replaced by Chad Westendorf, a banker who was appointed the personal representative of Satterfield's estate. Tony was replaced by Westendorf before the December 2018 court filing announcing the proposed $505,000 partial settlement.
Much of the little that is publicly known about Satterfield's death comes from the 2018 court filing in her wrongful death case.
It states that Satterfield died after a trip-and-fall accident in Hampton County. The recent lawsuit on behalf of her sons, filed Sept. 15, provides some additional information. It said Satterfield fell in the Hampton home of Alex Murdaugh, whose family she had worked for as a nanny and housekeeper for more than two decades.
SLED opened an investigation into Satterfield's death and the handling of her estate, its spokesman announced on Sept. 15.
Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper told SLED in a letter that her office was never notified of Satterfield's death and no autopsy was conducted. Satterfield's death certificate indicates she succumbed to natural causes, which was inconsistent with the trip-and-fall injuries she reportedly sustained, she stated.
Investigation into Satterfield's death and estate comes after the June killings of Alex Murdaugh's wife and son, along with allegations that he embezzled funds from his family's law firm.
The 53-year-old attorney who is said to have suffered from a 20-year opioid habit was arrested Sept. 16 on insurance fraud charges after he was accused of staging a failed suicide plot to collect on a $10 million insurance policy.