A new civil lawsuit filed Thursday is against suspended South Carolina attorney Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, former bank CEO Russell Laffitte, and Palmetto State Bank of Hampton.
The latest personal injury suit was filed in Allendale County Court of Common Pleas by attorney Mark Tinsley on behalf of Arthur Badger as a personal representative of the estate of Donna Badger, who was killed in a vehicle crash in 2011.
The suit alleges that Murdaugh and Laffitte, through the services of Palmetto State Bank, conspired to steal settlement funds from Arthur Badger, who was Murdaugh’s client at the time.
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Arthur Badger is an Allendale man who was injured in a Jan. 28, 2011 crash with a UPS truck. His wife, Donna Badger was killed. The complaint also accuses the defendants of making illegal loans and misrepresenting facts to government agencies as part of this conspiracy.
As causes of action, the suit alleges civil conspiracy, conversion and fraud against Murdaugh and Laffittee, and aiding and abetting, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty against Palmetto State Bank.
Murdaugh was indicted on Jan. 21 for allegedly stealing, on multiple occasions in 2013 and 2014, from the personal injury settlement funds of the Badgers, who were not even aware they had a settlement.
Laffitte, who was terminated as CEO of Palmetto State Bank on Jan. 7, was indicted on May 4 for numerous charges that included criminal conspiracy with Murdaugh on several other alleged crimes.
The complaint includes copies of allegedly fraudulent disbursement statements and emails between Murdaugh and Laffitte referencing the use of a law firm accounting employee to cut checks for certain amounts in a certain fashion. At the time of the alleged crimes, Murdaugh was a partner at Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, PA, the law firm founded by his great-grandfather, while Laffitte was the vice president of the Hampton bank founded by his family more than a century ago.
The Hampton County Guardian has contacted, by email and phone, attorneys for Murdaugh, Laffitte and Palmetto State Bank seeking comment. Requests for comment were not immediately returned.
This is the 11th civil lawsuit filed directly naming Murdaugh, and the first against Laffitte, after an alleged decade-long, multi-county financial crime spree in which Murdaugh stole more than $8 million from clients, partners and other attorneys.
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In addition to Badger, Tinsley also represents the estate of Mallory Beach in a wrongful death suit against Murdaugh related to a February 2019 boat crash, as well as representing two of the boat crash survivors who are suing Murdaugh.
Murdaugh was suspended from the practice of law by Order of the South Carolina Supreme Court in September 2021. Murdaugh has been the target of waves of indictments since late 2021 and is now facing a total of 82 criminal charges. He remains in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County on a $7 million bond with no ten percent option.
Laffitte is currently out on a $1 million bond.
Read more about the Murdaugh crime saga here.