Lawsuit claims Alex Murdaugh orchestrated scheme to silence passenger in fatal 2019 boat crash

Crime & Safety

HAMPTON, S.C. (WSAV) – One of six passengers in the 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach has filed a lawsuit against two members of the Murdaugh family and others.

Attorneys for Connor Cook are asking for actual and punitive damages from Alex Murdaugh and his son, Buster Murdaugh, along with Greg Parker, CEO and founder of Parker’s, and Tajeeha Cohen, a clerk at a Parker’s gas station. The suit also asks for a joint award from the defendants for unfair trade practices.

Alex Murdaugh’s other son, Paul Murdaugh, had been indicted for boating under the influence causing death in the crash. Beach was thrown from the boat into Archer’s Creek and her body wasn’t found for a week.

Connor Cook

Meanwhile, Cook suffered multiple jaw fractures and a serious cut to the face after getting slammed into the side of the boat.

However, the charges were dismissed against Paul Murdaugh after he was found shot to death, along with his mother, in June.

The lawsuit claims Alex Murdaugh and others intentionally attempted to shift the blame for the boat accident from Paul Murdaugh to Cook, further stating:

The Defendant’s intentional or negligent conduct in misdirecting law enforcement and orchestrating a scheme to silence Plaintiff Cook, all the while knowing that Paul Murdaugh was the driver of the boat, and knowing that if successful, Plaintiff Cook would be arrested for the death of Mallory Beach, was conduct so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and must be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.

Much of the lawsuit focuses on the circumstances leading up to the crash, citing Paul Murdaugh’s purchase of $50 worth of alcohol at a Parker’s gas station using a family credit card and Buster Murdaugh’s driver’s license.

Paul Murdaugh and all the passengers on the boat were determined to be “grossly intoxicated” by investigators on scene the night of the crash.

The lawsuit claims various family members knew that Paul Murdaugh, despite being underage, would “often drink to the point of intoxication,” and was known to “operate family vehicles, including boats” while under the influence of alcohol.

He was even known to have an “alcohol-induced personality transformation” where he would become “Timmy.”

Cook, who called 911 after the crash, says Alex Murdaugh attempted to make sure none of the passengers would tell authorities his son was driving the boat. The suit

The suit continues to say hospital personnel said Alex Murdaugh sought out the passengers in the hospital to “control the narrative” of what occurred.

“Defendant Murdaugh negligently or intentionally instructed Plaintiff Cook that everything would be all right, telling him to “keep his mouth shut” and inform law enforcement he did not know who was driving the boat at the time of the crash,” the lawsuit reads.

Cook says because of what Alex Murdaugh told him, he gave vague explanations of the crash.

He says he believed his friend’s father wanted to help him, recommending his family to retain attorney Cory Fleming, who “would be the ‘best’ attorney for Plaintiff Cook in representing his interests in the criminal investigation regarding who was operating the boat at the time of the collision.”

What Alex Murdaugh apparently didn’t tell Cook and his family was Fleming was his college roommate, best friend, and Paul Murdaugh’s Godfather. According to Cook, Fleming then told him not to talk to law enforcement.

The lawsuit claims this was all a part of Alex Murdaugh’s plan to have Cook held criminally and civilly responsible for the crash “through inadequate investigation, a ‘whisper campaign’ in the Hampton County community, and law enforcement misdirection and possible obstruction of the investigation.”

Cook, when deposed in January 2020 in the Mallory Beach case, testified he was afraid of the Murdaughs because of “them being who they are.”

“Just anything they get in they get out of,” he testified. “I’ve always been told that.”

The suit claims Alex and Buster Murdaugh, Greg Parker and Tajeeha Cohen “are jointly and severally liable for all damages alleged herein because their negligent, careless, grossly negligent, and reckless acts and omissions, singularly or in combination, were the proximate cause of Plaintiff’s damages, injuries, and losses.”

Two other lawsuits are expected to be filed involving the family, including another by Cook against law enforcement agencies.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating allegations of possible instruction in the crash. The agency has five other ongoing investigations into Alex Murdaugh and his family.

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