SC Judge OKs $15M Insurance Payout for Store that Sold Beer to Underage Murdaugh

July 31, 2023

A South Carolina judge A judge has signed off on a $15.5 million settlement for the family of Mallory Beach, the 19-year-old girl who died in a 2019 boat crash that is believed to have set in motion the downfall of convicted attorney Alex Murdaugh.

Circuit Judge Daniel Hall on Thursday approved the deal between the victim`s family and Parker`s Kitchen, according to local media reports. An investigation had revealed that a clerk for the Southern chain did not stop Paul Murdaugh from using his older brother’s ID to buy beer on the same February 2019 night that authorities said the youth steered a boat into a bridge in Beaufort County, South Carolina.

The wreck killed Beach and injured three others.

Parker’s Kitchen did not accept liability for Beach’s death through the settlement. The insurance carriers for Parkers’, which will be liable for the settlement payments, were not named in court documents available online. But the Beach family members have said they hope the high total will compel stores to seriously follow alcohol laws.

Paul Murdaugh faced charges of boating under the influence at the time of his death.

The attorney for Parker’s owner said the settlement was necessitated by South Carolina’s joint and several liability law. “The application of the joint and several liability laws in South Carolina meant that, if Parker’s was found even 1% at fault, it would have paid for the entirety of any verdict rendered against the Murdaugh family,” attorney PK Shere said in July. “The unfairness of that caused Parker’s insurance carriers to resolve these suits to avoid paying the likely award intended to punish Alex Murdaugh. This marks the conclusion of all the boat crash cases. We sincerely hope that all involved parties will find some measure of closure.”

South Carolina’s Senate majority leader Shane Massey, an insurance defense lawyer, has said the case could add momentum to a move change the way defendants are penalized for their involvement in personal injury and death cases.

Alex Murdaugh is serving a life sentence without parole for the June 2021 killings of his wife, Maggie, and Paul, his youngest son. Prosecutors in this year`s double murder trial argued that Alex Murdaugh feared a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the boat crash would uncover the millions of dollars he had stolen from his clients and law firm.

Photo: Paul Murdaugh, who purchased the beer and piloted the boat, second from left. The photo of the Murdaugh family was shown in court at Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial in March. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)