Alex Murdaugh, the prominent South Carolina attorney who has become embroiled in a scandal involving drug abuse and a botched life insurance fraud plot, is now being sued by a survivor of the 2019 boat crash involving his son.
The lawsuit claims that Alex Murdaugh, 53, attempted to orchestrate a campaign to falsely blame Connor Cook for the boating crash that left one person dead.
Cook – who filed the lawsuit – also alleges that Alex Murdaugh should have been aware that his underage son, Paul, had alcohol issues and not allowed him to use his boat. The lawsuit claims that Alex Murdaugh was negligent in his actions and that he intentionally inflicted emotional distress on Cook.
The lawsuit is the latest episode in a tangled saga involving the Murdaugh family that has drawn national attention over the past few weeks.
An attorney for Alex Murdaugh has not returned CNN’s call for comment on the lawsuit.
Paul Murdaugh was 19 when he allegedly piloted his father’s motorboat with five friends in the early hours of February 24, 2019, and struck a bridge on Archer’s Creek, near Parris Island. One of his passengers, Mallory Beach, also 19, was tossed from the boat, and her body was found a week later.
Cook said he was injured in the crash.
Paul Murdaugh “would often drink to the point of intoxication and was known to operate family vehicles, including boats while under the influence of alcohol,” according to the lawsuit.
Cook claims in the lawsuit that Murdaugh was at the hospital after the crash and “sought out all or most of the boat passengers in an attempt to control the narrative of what had occurred” telling Cook to “keep his mouth shut.”
Further, Alex Murdaugh advised the Cook family on whom they should hire as an attorney to represent their son but did not disclose that the attorney was a close personal friend and “godfather” of Paul, the lawsuit states. The family retained the counsel who advised Connor “not to cooperate with law enforcement,” according to the lawsuit.
The Murdaughs and others also began a “whisper campaign” in the Hampton County community to have Cook held criminally and civilly responsible, according to the filing.
The lawsuit names Paul’s older brother and the store where the teens allegedly purchased alcohol. Paul Murdaugh used his brother’s driver’s license and mother’s credit card to purchase about $50 worth of alcoholic beverages, according to the lawsuit, which also alleges that the store focused “on transaction speed at the expense of proper license checks.”
Cook obtained a new attorney two months after the incident and provided information to prosecutors that helped lead to charges against Paul Murdaugh.
Murdaugh was facing charges including boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm, and causing death in connection to the boat crash. He had pleaded not guilty, before his death in tragic circumstances in June.
The Murdaugh family: A story of murder, insurance fraud
On June 7, Alex Murdaugh found his wife Maggie and Paul shot dead outside of their home in Islandton, South Carolina, according to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Maggie Murdaugh, 52, had been shot multiple times with a semiautomatic rifle. Paul Murdaugh, by then 22, had been shot at least twice with a shotgun.
No arrests have been made, and the case is still under investigation.
Then events took an astonishing turn in September when Alex Murdaugh was accused of arranging for a former client to kill him so that his surviving son could collect a life insurance payout of about $10 million, according to court documents.
Murdaugh was shot in the head and survived.
A family spokesperson had previously blamed the shooting on an unidentified man in a blue truck. However, Alex Murdaugh admitted to authorities that he had conspired with the shooter to kill him as part of a suicidal fraud scheme, according to an affidavit to support charges against the alleged gunman.
He has been charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report. The purpose of the scheme was to allow Murdaugh’s eldest son to collect a $10 million life insurance policy, according to law enforcement.
Murdaugh faces other legal and personal issues as well. His shooting on September 4 came a day after he resigned from his law firm amid allegations he had misappropriated funds. Two days after the shooting, Murdaugh released a statement saying he was entering rehab, and his law license has also been suspended.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” he said in the statement. “I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated by these murders. I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt including my family, friends and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
In addition, SLED has opened a probe into the February 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield, a housekeeper who’d spent more than two decades working for the Murdaugh family.
CNN’s Faith Karimi contributed to this report.