HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) — A Hampton County judge has reconsidered his decision and now the Mallory Beach civil trial will include all defendants, including Parker’s.
The Parker’s corporation had originally won the right to have its case separated from all the other defendants, including Alex Murdaugh.
Tuesday, Judge Daniel Hall granted the request by the Beach family for one trial in the case.
This all stems from the boat crash in March 2019 that killed then-19-year-old Mallory Beach.
Six underage friends were on the boat after a day of drinking when it crashed into a piling in Archer’s Creek, throwing Mallory into the water. She was not found for seven days.
Alex Murdaugh, the Estate of Paul Murdaugh, who was underage and driving the boat while intoxicated when it crashed, the Estate of Maggie Murdaugh, Buster Murdaugh, Paul’s older brother whose ID was used by Paul to purchase the alcohol, and Parker’s are all named in the suit.
The Beaufort Parker’s store was the place where Paul used his brother’s ID to buy the alcohol that day. Paul and his other five friends aboard the boat then drank it to excess. The claim is that alcohol consumption, especially by Paul, led to the crash on Archer’s Creek that night.
Parker’s had argued it could be liable for a larger part of the settlement amount in the case if a jury finds in favor of the Beach family.
A judge initially accepted Parker’s request and allowed for a second civil trial with the Beach family and Parker’s as the only defendant.
The Beach family appealed, saying in part that it would cause undue emotional stress on the family to have to go through two trials and relive Mallory’s death twice.
As to the liability issue, the appeal says “because of the astronomical net worth of Parker’s, there is likely no verdict that Parker’s cannot satisfy.”
The appeal adds that there could be a risk of inconsistent verdicts in the case. This means some defendants could be found guilty, and then be allowed to relitigate some of the details and facts in the case a second time.
Adding “That Parker’s is “tethered” to the Murdaughs is a situation of their own making by illegally selling alcohol to an underage Paul Murdaugh. Parker’s has no one to blame but itself for the situation in which it finds itself.”
PK Shere, attorney for Parker’s tells News 3: “We are obviously disappointed that Judge Hall has reversed his decision. We are looking into options, but, ultimately, we look forward to presenting our case at trial and exonerating Tajeeha Cohen and Parker’s.”
Mark Tinsley, the Beach family attorney said: “The Beach family is very pleased with the Court’s decision and we look forward to trying the case in January.”
The full civil trial, with all defendants, is now set for Jan. 9, 2023.
The family of Mallory Beach will have to go through two civil trials connected to the boating crash that killed her.
A Hampton County judge accepted the Parker’s Corporation’s request to separate their case from the other defendants, including Alex Murdaugh.
Parker’s is being sued for selling alcohol on the day of the boat crash to Paul Murdaugh, who was underage. Murdaugh was driving the boat that hit a piling, throwing Beach into the water, killing her.
The Beach family attorney Mark Tinsley said he is weighing the family’s options from here.
“At this point, I plan on asking the judge to reconsider his ruling in hopes that the family won’t be put through two full trials,” Tinsley said.
Without an appeal, the judge has ordered this civil trial to start as early as Oct. 10.