SC insurance coverage lawsuit cites Murdaugh 'depravity,' offers new particulars in housekeeper's demise [The State] – Insurance coverage Information Internet

A lawsuit by the insurance company that paid off an allegedly bogus claim by lawyer Alex Murdaugh after the death of his housekeeper cites Murdaugh’s “depravity” and alleges new details of an alleged scheme he cooked up with another lawyer and a banker.
“The scope of Murdaugh’s depravity is without precedent in Western jurisprudence,” asserts the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court by Nautilus Insurance Company.
Murdaugh had a $5 million umbrella insurance policy with Nautilus, as well as at least one other policy with another company. In its lawsuit, Nautilus does not say exactly how much it paid out to Murdaugh and his alleged associates for the death of Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. But court documents filed in state court say Murdaugh has agreed to sign a “confession of judgment” that he stole $4.3 million in insurance proceeds from Satterfield’s heirs.
The lawsuit names as defendants Murdaugh; his longtime friend, lawyer Cory Fleming, and Chad Westendorf, a bank official at Palmetto State Bank, which played a role in the alleged illegal scheme to divert insurance money from the Satterfield heirs to Murdaugh and Fleming.
The new lawsuit also names Palmetto State Bank of Hampton and Fleming’s former law firm, Moss & Kuhn of Beaufort, as defendants.
Murdaugh and Fleming already face criminal charges in that scheme to channel insurance money to them from Satterfield’s heirs. The charges were detailed in March state grand jury indictments and roughly parallel the allegations in a civil lawsuit brought last September by Satterfield’s heirs against Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf.
According to those already-publicized civil and criminal allegations, Murdaugh hatched a plot after Satterfield died of injuries in a February 2018 trip-and-fall at his house. Murdaugh then contacted Satterfield’s two sons and urged them to press a legal action against him, whereby insurance companies would pay the sons a claim out of Murdaugh’s $5-plus million coverage for their mother’s death, according to charges.
Murdaugh arranged for the sons to use Fleming as their lawyer and Westendorf as their personal representative, to serve as their trustee and handle the money, according to charges.
Eventually, at least two insurance companies including Nautilus paid off more than $4 million in the case, the lion’s share of which was pocketed by Murdaugh, according to criminal and civil allegations. Some also went to Fleming and Westendorf, according to allegations in civil and criminal legal actions.
Nautilus’ lawsuit repeats those allegations and asserts fresh details:
Murdaugh pressured Nautilus to settle the claim, threatening a suit for bad faith against Nautilus if it refused to pay policy limits.
Murdaugh was abusive toward the Nautilus adjuster handling the claim and demanded Nautilus pay its full policy limits, threatening that if the case against him were filed and went to trial, he would admit liability before a jury — which would expose the insurance company to a high verdict against it.
Fleming received $600,000 in fees for handling the case and disbursing the money paid by Nautilus into a bank account created and controlled by Murdaugh in the name of “Forge.”
Immediately after Satterfield’s fall on Feb. 2, 2018, Murdaugh “rushed to the scene,” got there before the EMS and began telling everyone that Satterfield had briefly regained consciousness, “during which time she stated that Murdaugh’s dogs had caused her to fall. This statement was heard by no one else and is contradicted by Ms. Satterfield’s later statement to hospital staff that she had no idea what made her fall,” the lawsuit said.
After Satterfield died, Murdaugh began to claim that Satterfield was at his property that day, not to perform work for Murdaugh and his family, but to collect a check for work performed for someone else, thus avoiding a worker’s compensation defense.” That apparently would have resulted in cutting Murdaugh and his associates out of the loop in any future compensation payments.
Murdaugh also began to tell “multiple third parties in Hampton County that he was liable for Gloria Satterfield’s fall and ultimate death, an admission against interest that all but ensured that there could be no challenge to (Murdaugh’s) liability, and securing his ability to force Nautilus to contribute settlement funds that Murdaugh and the co-conspirators stole,” the lawsuit said.
‘Effectively co-counsel’
During the whole affair, Murdaugh and Fleming were “effectively co-counsel and … unbeknownst to Nautilus, Murdaugh was not a bona fide insured seeking coverage, but rather was coordinating the handling of the claim with Fleming–including sending correspondence related to the case on Murdaugh’s firm’s letterhead and preparing and delivering disbursement sheets…,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleged that Murdaugh, Fleming and Westendorf made “no effort” to alert the Satterfield heirs of the insurance money they received.
Both Murdaugh’s and Fleming’s law licenses have been suspended.
Neither Westendorf nor a lawyer representing him could be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment.
Jim Moss, a partner in Moss & Kuhn, said Wednesday that he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
Jim Griffin, one of Murdaugh’s lawyers, said he has not seen the lawsuit and wasn’t able to comment.
Lawyers for Nautilus are Jaan Rannik and Andrew Epting of Charleston, according to court records.
Murdaugh has been in the Richland County Jail since last fall, facing a long list of charges against him and unable to post a $7 million bond. He has been called a person of interest in the murders June 7, 2021, of his wife, Maggie, and their son, Paul, at the family’s rural Colleton County estate.
(C)2022 The State. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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