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Murdaugh 2019 boat crash lawsuits settled, lawyers say

Paul Murdaugh, 19, was believed to have been driving when Mallory Beach, 19, was thrown from the boat and died. Murdaugh's father, prominent lawyer Alex Murdaugh, was convicted of Paul’s murder in March.
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Lawsuits over the deadly 2019 crash of a boat believed to have been driven by the son of South Carolina legal scion Alex Murdaugh have been settled, two lawyers familiar with the negotiations said Sunday.

The boat struck a bridge piling in Archer's Creek, a channel near Hilton Head, throwing Mallory Beach, 19, into the water and ultimately leading to her death, authorities have said.

Alex Murdaugh, 64, an attorney from a prominent family in the state's legal community and in Hampton County, owned the boat, and authorities believe his teenage son, Paul, was in control when it crashed, according to police records.

In March, a jury convicted Alex Murdaugh of murdering his wife, Margaret, 52, and Paul in June 2021. Prosecutors alleged that he killed his family to escape accountability for financial crimes he had committed. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

At the time of the slayings, Paul Murdaugh was facing trial in connection with the boat crash.

As the vessel's owner, Alex Murdaugh has been the focus of litigation in the boat crash, and a trial in at least one of the claims had been expected to move forward in the coming months.

From left, Paul, Margaret and Alex Murdaugh.
From left, Paul, Margaret and Alex Murdaugh.via Facebook

All lawsuits related to the crash, however, were settled as of Sunday, the lawyers said. No further trials are expected.

Four other teenagers were on the boat, and all their claims have been settled, the lawyers said. Those passengers are Anthony Cook, Morgan Doughty, Miley Altman and Connor Cook, they said.

A police report said that the passengers, all of whom were under the legal drinking age, were “grossly intoxicated” and that alcohol was found on the boat, authorities said. Paul Murdaugh is on security video purchasing alcohol that evening, and authorities believe he did so with the ID of his older brother, Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh Jr.

Plaintiffs also targeted the store that sold it to him, Parker's. In a statement Sunday, a lawyer for the retailer said its insurance firms had already settled rather than face losses aimed at punishing a now-unpopular Alex Murdaugh.

"The unfairness of that caused Parker’s insurance carriers to resolve these suits to avoid paying the likely award intended to punish Alex Murdaugh," lawyer PK Shere said in a statement.

Shere continued: "This marks the conclusion of all the boat crash cases. We sincerely hope that all involved parties will find some measure of closure."

Mark Tinsley, a lawyer for the Beach family, said the settlement will make a statement that retailers share responsibility for teenage drinking.

"The Beach family believes this settlement will serve as a warning to all the Parker’s of the world, who might make an illegal sale of alcohol to a minor, that they will be held to account for their wrongful conduct if they do," he said in a statement.

The amounts involved in the settlements have not been confirmed by NBC News. NBC affiliate WSAV of Savannah, Georgia, reported the settlement cash amounted to $15 million, most of it going to Beach's family.