Satterfield attorneys respond to Alex Murdaugh’s attempt to take back $4.3 million judgment
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - There is another twist this week in the legal drama surrounding convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.
In court documents filed on Tuesday, attorneys for the family of longtime Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield call his defense team’s latest filing “absurd and nonsensical.”
In a motion last month, Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin argued that a $4.3 million judgment awarded to the Satterfield family should be vacated because it was obtained through “inaccurate facts,” citing their client’s own lies.
The judgment, the defense team argues, was merely symbolic.
Satterfield attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter say that there is no legal basis to throw out the judgment, and write in their response to the motion that this is just the Murdaugh defense seeking a “mulligan,” or do-over.
“It’s just continuously misleading and using our court system and enough is enough,” Bland said in an interview Wednesday.
Bland said this attempt to take back the judgment is also victimizing the Satterfield family further.
The Satterfield family filed a September 2021 lawsuit against Murdaugh, claiming he stole insurance money owed to them after their mother died in a trip and fall accident at the Murdaugh estate in 2018.
Murdaugh admitted wrongdoing, and agreed to the $4.3 million judgment last year.
The disgraced former attorney is currently serving a life sentence in prison for the murders of his wife and son.
His defense team argues the Satterfields were never entitled to that money in the first place, because Murdaugh “invented” the story about the family dogs causing Gloria to fall.
Satterfield attorneys wrote in their response that this is a “twisted application of Murdaugh logic.”
“The time for him to have said the dogs weren’t tripped was when I went to him with the confession of judgment, and asked him to sign,” Bland said. “He should have said, ‘No, I’m not signing for that. I lied and your clients aren’t entitled to any judgment from me.’”
Bland believes Murdaugh is only now shifting his story to shield himself from liability in a separate lawsuit from the Nautilus, the insurance company that paid out the original, $3.8 million settlement.
“They traffic that confession of judgment when they want Alex to be rewarded for it,” he said. “‘You see, he stepped up and he gave the Satterfields $4.3 million, Judge Lee, so lower his bond.’ Or when he went to the murder jury, and said, ‘Hey, we gave them a confession of judgment,’ trying to curry favor, trying to say, ‘I’m making restitution.’ No. It’s only when it benefits him does he say that he gave the confession of judgment. Now when he’s going to get smacked with the $3.8 million judgment from Nautilus Insurance Company, and then interest on that money, he wants out of it.”
The Murdaugh defense argues that the $4.3 million judgment does no harm to Murdaugh, since all of his assets are in the hands of receivers meant to divvy up the funds among the victims of his alleged financial crimes.
They say the judgment really only hurts those victims.
The motion from Harpootlian and Griffin reads, “Mr. Murdaugh and his counsel do not challenge the confessed judgment in this case because it somehow harms Mr. Murdaugh. The confession harms Mr. Murdaugh not at all. It does not require him to pay any money and all his money is in the custody of receivers appointed by this Court. If ten insurance companies sued Mr. Murdaugh for this same $4.3 million and all prevailed, Mr. Murdaugh’s life would not change in any way. The confessed judgment only harms Mr. Murdaugh’s other victims.”
Bland vehemently disagrees.
After negotiating with Murdaugh’s counsel for six months, the Satterfield attorneys agreed to not assert “dominance” over other claimants.
“It’s a completely false argument that we have harmed the victims by our confession of judgment because we’ve agreed to go to the back of the line with it,” Bland said.
The Satterfield attorneys have asked for sanctions against Murdaugh’s lawyers, and have requested a hearing on this matter before Judge Daniel Hall, who approved the confession of judgment.
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