Sons of Murdaugh housekeeper reach settlement with attorney over missing money

The sons of the Murdaugh family housekeeper who died in 2018 after an alleged trip-and-fall accident said they’ve reached a settlement with a Beaufort lawyer accused of working with Alex Murdaugh to withhold death settlement money.

Gloria Satterfield’s sons reached a settlement with personal injury lawyer Cory Fleming and his firm to pay back “all legal fees and expenses Mr. Fleming and his law firm received from the $4,300,000 they recovered for the Estate in connection with the claims asserted against Alex Murdaugh for the death of Gloria Satterfied[sic],” according to a statement through their attorney.

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The agreement was reached Friday, and the settlement was announced Sunday night.

Cory Fleming, his law firm Moss, Kuhn, and Fleming, and their insurance carrier will pay back the funds to the Satterfield estate. Fleming was sued, along with Murdaugh and a banker, accused of diverting settlement money from the family. The sons never received any money.

“Mr. Fleming and his law firm maintain, they — like others — were victims of Alex Murdaugh’s fraudulent scheme,” the statement said.

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The lawsuit, filed Sept. 15, said after Gloria Satterfield died, Murdaugh encouraged her sons to use the services of Fleming and banker Chad Westendorf to file a wrongful death claim against him. Fleming was Murdaugh’s college roommate and godfather to his son Paul, a connection not disclosed to the sons, according to the lawsuit.

An original death settlement of $505,000 was approved, according to public documents. The sons, Michael Satterfield and Brian Harriott, never received any funds from that settlement, according to the lawsuit, and learned of its existence when it was reported in the news.

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After the lawsuit was filed last month, Satterfield’s attorney, Eric Bland, said he discovered a missing judge’s order approving a $4.3 million settlement. The documents were never filed, though they were signed by a judge.

The sons were supposed to receive $2.76 million of a $4.3 million settlement, according to the documents dated May 13, 2019.

As part of the never-filed settlement, attorney fees of $1.4 million were paid, presumably to Fleming and his firm, as he was Murdaugh’s designated attorney for the estate.

Sunday’s statement seems to represent that those fees will be paid back to the Satterfield estate.

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A reporter left a voicemail for Bland on Monday morning. It’s not clear exactly how much money Fleming and his firm will pay back.

“The estate will continue pursuing other culpable parties who resist acceptance of responsibility for their part in this tragic matter,” according to the statement.

While Fleming and his firm agreed to settle, the statement indicates the lawsuit could continue to pursue Murdaugh and Westendorf for the alleged missing money.

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A week after the original lawsuit was filed, a Georgia-based financial firm released its own statement denying any involvement in the “alleged inappropriate conduct of Alex Murdaugh.”

Murdaugh had Fleming make a check of the settlement money payable to Forge Consulting LLC, a company which structures financial settlements, according to attorney Bland.

“Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Murdaugh, and possibly others working with him, leveraged the Forge Consulting name and reputation by establishing a bank account titled ‘Forge’ without our knowledge or consent,” Forge wrote.

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Forge wrote that it reported the alleged account to law enforcement, “along with others who are investigating.”

Additionally, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the death of Gloria Satterfield. She died of injuries sustained in a trip-and-fall accident at the Murdaugh family home, according to court documents. However, her death was listed as “natural” at the hospital weeks later, so no autopsy was ever done. The current Hampton County coroner noticed the irregularity and petitioned SLED to investigate.

The Sunday night statement said a “more comprehensive joint statement from Mr. Fleming, his firm, and the Satterfield Estate will be issued later this week.”