How Civil and Criminal Cases Work in Tandem (feat. Murdaugh saga)

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Attorney Tom Giannotti is here to talk about Murdaugh murder. Learn more about this interesting case here!

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► Hi. I’m Tom Giannotti, attorney at Butler Kahn. If you’re like me, you may have followed this Murdaugh murder trial that’s been going on as well as the whole saga that has basically culminated in this murder trial, which is the subject of several documentaries as well as a podcast. So if you’re like me, I started with the podcast and then there’s an HBO documentary, now there’s a Netflix documentary. Now there’s an actual live trial going on. I followed bits and pieces of the trial but I thought the documentaries were very interesting. I felt, if you followed it like me, this is just a tragic story in so many respects. But I thought it would be an interesting way to talk about something that we see in our practice, which is how civil and criminal cases can work in tandem. So we often see this in sexual assault cases and in some car wreck cases.

Now, that is where the defendant commits a crime for which he or she is also sued for money damages. In the context of this Murdaugh saga, if you will, if you followed it you know that the murder trial, that is, the accusation that Alex Murdaugh murdered his wife and son, you’ll recognize that arises out of slightly different facts and circumstances than some of the other civil suits that we’ll see here in a moment are outlined in this article behind me. But that is going to be, if I remember correctly, what kind of set things in motion really, this horrible change of events that culminated in the murders of the Murdaugh family was the equally tragic, horrific death of Mallory Beach, a young lady who was killed in a boat accident, a boating crash in Low Country, South Carolina.

There was drinking involved and, of course, being Murdaughs, we see this in a common theme in this whole saga. There was a subsequent effort to cover-up and we saw that in the documentaries as well as in the civil suit that both the Beach family as well as other passengers of the boat had brought various suits against the Murdaugh family, their estate, the other parties involved in that boating crash, but that is one of many horrific things that has happened in this whole saga of events. But that’s another example, right, of something where there’s both civil and criminal cases going on at the same time. So apparently, the civil suits are still ongoing. I know at least one of them had been settled, and then Alex Murdaugh said I didn’t have any money to pay it. Anyway, we’ll talk about that in a moment.

But there’s also criminal charges, of course, against one of the Murdaugh’s sons who was driving the boat and it was determined he was intoxicated. Basically, the cover-up efforts failed but really disturbing stuff. If you haven’t watched that part of the documentary, it’s quite interesting. But I’ll go on here to the next of horrible things here is their housekeeper was also killed, or how she died apparently by allegedly falling down the stairs. She tripped and fell on the stairs and hit her head, but there is suspicion surrounding those circumstances of her death and there was a wrongful death suit filed. And, of course, Mr. Murdaugh, who is now on trial for murder, basically committed insurance fraud and also defrauded his clients, the family up there, longtime housekeeper, saying that he’d negotiated a settlement without even telling them and pocketed the money for himself.

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