SC Supreme Court suspends law license of attorney sued by Murdaugh housekeeper’s estate
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Supreme Court suspended the law license of an attorney who handled the wrongful death settlement for the longtime housekeeper of attorney Alex Murdaugh.
An order issued Friday suspended the law license of Cory Howerton Fleming until further notice.
Fleming was named in September in a lawsuit filed by the estate of Gloria Satterfield, who died at age 57 after what court documents described as a “trip and fall” accident at the Murdaugh family home.
The lawsuit alleged Satterfield’s children never received more than $4 million in settlement funds reached between Fleming, who was serving as their attorney, and Murdaugh. The lawsuit, filed on Sept. 15, sued Murdaugh, Fleming and Fleming’s law firm for breach of fiduciary duty and civil conspiracy.
Attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, who represented Satterfield’s children in the new suit, said Murdaugh referred Fleming to Satterfield’s son in the wrongful death suit and said Fleming was one of Murdaugh’s “best friends and college roommate.”
Late last week, however, Bland and Richter announced a settlement had been reached between Satterfield’s estate, Fleming, and the insurance carrier connected to the lawsuit.
“Mr. Fleming stepped forward and did the right thing by the Estate. Mr. Fleming and his law firm maintain, they—like others—were victims of Alex Murdaugh’s fraudulent scheme,” Bland and Richter wrote.
Fleming and his law firm, Moss, Kuhn & Fleming, P.A., and the Satterfield estate released a joint statement:
On October 1, 2021, Cory Fleming and his law firm reached a settlement with the Estate of Gloria Satterfield and Ms. Satterfield’s sons under which Mr. Fleming and his law firm are personally repaying all legal fees and expenses they received, and the firm’s malpractice insurance carrier is paying the full limits of its policy. The settlement was reached less than one month after Mr. Fleming first learned that the settlement funds recovered for Ms. Satterfield’s sons and her estate had been stolen by Alex Murdaugh.
Mr. Fleming acknowledges that material mistakes were made by him at crucial times throughout this matter and sincerely apologizes to Ms. Satterfield’s sons for everything they have been through and that they did not receive their rightful monies from the death of their mother. Mr. Fleming was engaged to pursue claims on behalf of Ms. Satterfield’s estate. He pursued those claims, negotiated substantial settlements with Mr. Murdaugh’s insurance carriers and reduced his fee by fifty percent (50%) to increase the net recovery for Ms. Satterfield’s sons and her estate.
When it came time to disburse the settlement funds, Mr. Fleming trusted his close friend and colleague to deal with him truthfully and honorably, only to be misled and deceived in one of the worst possible ways for a lawyer: Alex Murdaugh lied to Mr. Fleming to steal client funds.
Mr. Fleming maintains he was not a willing participant in Mr. Murdaugh’s scheme but was used. Mr. Fleming states he would never knowingly jeopardize client funds or put a personal or professional relationship above his professional responsibilities. Until early September 2021, he sincerely believed that the settlement funds had been properly disbursed. Since that time, Mr. Fleming and his law firm have made every effort to do the right thing by Ms. Satterfield and her sons, which is reflected in both their ongoing cooperation and the settlement reached on October 1, 2021. Mr. Fleming appreciates the professionalism shown by the attorneys representing the Satterfield heirs in uncovering the misappropriated funds and their intent on making the heirs whole. Mr. Fleming agrees to provide his continued cooperation in this matter.
“The estate will continue pursuing other culpable parties who resist acceptance of responsibility for their part in this tragic matter,” Bland and Richter said on behalf of the family.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
Murdaugh has been accused of stealing funds from his own law firm, from which he resigned in early September, the day before he was wounded along a Hampton County road.
Investigators say that shooting was an insurance fraud scheme designed to provide a $10 million death settlement for Murdaugh’s surviving son. Murdaugh and a second man, Curtis Smith, have been charged in the alleged plot.
Murdaugh’s wife and youngest son, Maggie and Paul, were gunned down at the family’s rural Colleton County hunting property back in June.
After the shooting, Murdaugh announced his resignation from his law firm and his intention to enter rehab for substance abuse treatment.
The South Carolina Supreme Court suspended Murdaugh’s license to practice law on Sept.
Murdaugh’s former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick, filed a lawsuit earlier this week against Murdaugh over funds it alleged he misappropriated from the firm.
Lawyers said the discovery of the scheme originated when the firm inquired about a fee owed to them from a case that Murdaugh worked on along with another law firm. On Sept. 2, 2021, lawyers reported a check was found on Murdaugh’s desk from the other law firm.
The suit states that a notation on the check indicated it was partial payment of the fees the firm were inquiring about. However, PMPED officials said the check was made payable to Murdaugh’s personal account and not PMPED.
Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.