Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina lawyer convicted of killing his wife and son, lied when he said family dogs had caused a longtime housekeeper to fatally fall on his property in 2018, his lawyers said as part of a lawsuit accusing Murdaugh of life insurance fraud in the woman’s death.
Gloria Satterfield, who was employed by the Murdaugh family for more than two decades, died in 2018 of injuries from what has been described as a “trip and fall accident” at the family’s home. She was 57.
But Murdaugh “invented the critical facts” surrounding Satterfield's death in order to receive millions of dollars in a settlement from the Nautilus Insurance Co., his attorneys said Monday in response to a lawsuit filed by Nautilus against Murdaugh and others. The company alleges that it was defrauded.
“No dogs were involved in the fall of Gloria Satterfield on February 2, 2018,” Murdaugh’s attorneys said in the legal filing. After Satterfield's death, Murdaugh “invented Ms. Satterfield’s purported statement that dogs caused her to fall to force his insurers to make a settlement payment.”
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In the document, the lawyers said that Murdaugh not only made up that story to collect on the Nautilus insurance policy, "he acted to assist the Satterfield estate succeed in a claim on those facts, which the representatives of the Satterfield estate believed were true."
Jim Griffin, one of Murdaugh’s lawyers, told NBC News that the Satterfields and their lawyers should be added to the Nautilus lawsuit “because they have ultimately recovered the fraudulent insurance proceeds.”
Eric Bland, an attorney for the Satterfields, bristled at Murdaugh's changing story in a social media post on Tuesday, saying that a jury and judge have found him “not credible.”
Bland said the attorneys had recovered money for the Satterfields from parties other than Nautilus.
“These insurers had investigators investigate the claim thoroughly before they paid on the claim,” Bland said. “Additionally they also had lawyers who did their jobs and investigated the claim before it was paid. This is nothing but noise. Just gutless people trying to continue to victimize Gloria’s siblings and children.”
Bland said in another post that Nautilus has “nothing to get back from the Satterfields because the money was stolen by Alex. Nautilus is doing the right thing by suing Alex that’s where they will go and get their money back.”
After Satterfield died, family members said Murdaugh told them he would help her adult sons receive any settlement money for her death on his property.
But attorneys for her sons, Michael “Tony” Satterfield and Brian Harriott, claimed they had received none of the proceeds from a $4.3 million settlement they said was orchestrated in secret by Murdaugh, according to a lawsuit filed against him and others. State investigators alleged about $3.4 million was stolen after legal fees were paid.
Lawyers for the Satterfield estate announced in October 2021 that they had reached a settlement with Cory Fleming — Murdaugh’s best friend and a fellow lawyer who had represented the brothers in a wrongful death settlement — and with Fleming’s law firm and others.
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“The firm as well as Mr. Fleming agree that the Estate will be paid back all legal fees and expenses received from the $4,300,000 recovered for the Estate,” the attorneys said. “These fees are in connection with the claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Gloria Satterfield. In addition, the firm’s malpractice insurance carrier agreed to pay to the Estate their full policy limits of insurance.”
Murdaugh, 54, was convicted in March of murdering his wife, Margaret, 52, and youngest son, Paul, 22, in June 2021 in what prosecutors said was a scheme to gain pity and distract from financial crimes threatening to ruin his reputation. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
His attorneys have filed a notice to appeal his convictions.