Among the clients that Bamberg represents are Thomas L. Moore, a former S.C. Highway Patrol officer injured in the line of duty, and Hakeem Pinckney, a young deaf man who was rendered a quadriplegic following a tragic 2009 car accident. Murdaugh represented both clients in past civil suits.
Justin Bamberg, a Bamberg, S.C. attorney, Democratic state representative and civil rights advocate, has announced that he is representing seven of Murdaugh’s alleged victims and is in the process of preparing eight civil suits on behalf of those clients to be filed in Hampton County Court of Common Pleas.
“This would be eight multi-million dollar law suits,” said Bamberg. “If the people that are liable to my clients don’t voluntarily fix this, I will let the people of Hampton County do it, and I trust them. And I’m not filing these cases anywhere but Hampton County.”
Bamberg said that he is in the process of gathering information and legal documents and the suits have not yet been filed.
The Guardian has reached out to all of these parties for comment. On Monday afternoon, G. Trenholm Walker and Thomas P. Gressette, Jr., legal counsel for Palmetto State Bank, issued the following statement”
Bamberg told The Hampton County Guardian that he plans to file legal actions against Murdaugh, the Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick, PA (PMPED) law firm, the Parker Law Group, Palmetto State Bank, former Palmetto State Bank CEO Rusell Laffitte, and “anyone else I find was attached to stealing from these people.”
“Palmetto State Bank is deeply concerned about the troubling allegations that have been made about Mr. Pinckney’s settlement funds. The bank has taken immediate action under the leadership of its Board of Directors to obtain all of the pertinent facts and information. Palmetto State Bank intends to do what it can to right any wrongs that may have been committed.”
Murdaugh represented Hakeem Lynard Pinckney and his family in a lawsuit against a major tire company, Michelin North America, Inc., following the 2009 car crash. Court filings from Hampton County show that this case was settled on Oct. 7, 2011.
Pinckney, a student at the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind at the time of his accident, was severely injured and left a quadriplegic. He later died, Bamberg said. Laffitte was listed as a plaintiff on that lawsuit, court documents show.
Bamberg says that he has documentation that indicates that Murdaugh used Laffitte and Palmetto State Bank as a conservator for the Pinckney family, where settlement funds were paid, but the payment never reached the Pinckneys. “Alex Murdaugh convinced this boy’s mother to let Russell Laffitte, the CEO of Palmetto State Bank, be in charge of the money, and they stole the money,” Bamberg said. “I feel bad for these people. … These people need to be made whole, and we are going to sue anybody that we have to sue to make people whole, and I don’t care who you are.”
“No one is ever going to convince me that all of these wealthy, successful people, at the law firm and this bank, knew nothing,” he said. “You have folks here who have been untouchable forever, but now it’s 2021. There is no reason for anyone to be afraid of anyone.” Murdaugh has been indicted on financial crime charges in connection with the Thomas L. Moore case, but has not been indicted in connection to the Pinckney case. Laffitte has not been charged or indicted on any crimes at this point, either.
Hampton County Probate Judge Sheila Odom confirmed Monday, that her office had responded to those requests within two business days. On Monday, Jan Malinowski, President of Palmetto State Bank, issued the following statement to The Guardian:
The subpoena requested all documents in which Laffitte and another bank employee, Chad Westendorf, were appointed as a conservator or a personal representative of an estate, among other documents. On Nov. 5, the state Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel delivered a subpoena to the Hampton County Probate Court stating an investigation is being conducted before the Commission on Lawyer Conduct. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel is responsible for investigating complaints against lawyers and judges in South Carolina.
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