A neighborhood convenience store that sold alcohol to the underaged son of convicted murderer, Alex Murdaugh, has settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $15 million. Parker’s Kitchen, owned by Greg Parker, agreed to settle the case with the parents of a teenager killed in a boat crash while Murdaugh’s son Paul was driving.
Surveillance video footage showed then-19-year-old Paul Murdaugh buying alcohol at Parker’s Kitchen before the teenagers went out on the boat. He used his older brother’s license as proof that he was of age. Later that night, Paul crashed his father’s boat into a bridge while five friends including Mallory Beach were aboard. The impact threw Ms. Mallory out of the boat into the water. Search teams found the teen’s dead body a week later.
Local police stated that Paul Murdaugh was drunk at the time of the wreck.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The parents of Mallory Beach, who died in the crash, brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Parker’s Kitchen/owner Parker. The Beach family was represented by attorney Mark Tinsley, a South Carolina civil litigator. The boat driver’s father, Alex Murdaugh, was named as the second primary defendant in the case.
The settlement means the scheduled civil trial will be cancelled.
Joint and Several Liability Loomed
A lawyer for Mr. Parker said South Carolina joint and several liability laws played a role in the insurance companies’ decision to settle the case. The attorney explained that under this law, even if Parker’s Kitchen was found 1% at fault the convenience store would have had to pay for any verdict rendered against the Murdaugh family.
He added that the settlement concludes all the pending boat crash cases. The lawyer for the Beach family agreed, saying that the other boat occupants had settled their claims against Parker’s.
Failed Attempt to Decouple from Murdaugh Defendant
The judge in the case had recently denied Parker Kitchen’s request to not be tried alongside co-defendant Alex Murdaugh. Parker’s lawyer said it was all but assured that his client would not receive a fair trial given the outsized publicity of the case and being tied to a convicted murder defendant. He continued to say that the case was more about bad decisions made by the young adults involved than anything else as the Parker’s employee had properly checked the license Paul provided that night.
According to Parker's lawyer, the settlement decision was also partially based on having to go face trial alongside Murdaugh.
Parents of Teenagers Weigh in on Settlement
The Beach family hopes the settlement serves as a warning to stores selling alcohol that they will be held accountable for illegally selling alcoholic beverages to minors. This may save someone else’s child from the death Mallory suffered.
In the statement, the family also said blaming kids won’t solve the problem of underage drinking. Adding that almost 2 people die every week in South Carolina due to underage drinking. The family maintains that those who enable underage drinking must be stopped.
Parents' Suit Against Parker for Harassment Continues
The Beach family brought another civil conspiracy against Mr. Parker, his convenience store, and others that alleged harassment resulted from the public release of sensitive photos from the investigation that included pictures of Mallory Beach's body. That suit has not been settled and will continue.
Criminal Charges Dropped
Authorities charged Paul Murdaugh with boating under the influence that caused severe bodily injury and death before he was murdered. He pled not guilty. These charges were dropped after he died.