HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – A newly filed lawsuit by more alleged victims of disgraced former Hampton County attorney Alex Murdaugh and his associate Russell Laffitte includes a detailed paper trail purporting to show the ways in which the men stole money from two girls whose family died in a car crash.
Alania Plyler and Hannah Plyler were 12 and eight years old respectively in 2005, when their family’s car was hit and skidded off of I-95 in Hampton County, killing their mother and brother. Their Ford Explorer was outfitted with faulty Firestone tires, which had been the subject of various other accidents and lawsuits.
The family hired Murdaugh as he, his family, and his law firm had a reputation for successful personal injury cases.
“For nearly 100 years, railroads, trucking companies, manufacturers and other institutions had been hauled into Hampton County to face civil suits brought by the Murdaughs and to be handed massive jury trial verdicts… Under the reign of the Murdaugh dynasty, Hampton County had earned the reputation as the third worst ‘judicial hellhole’ in America by 2004, according to a report published by the watchdog group the American Tort Reform Foundation.”
Murdaugh represented the Plyler family in four separate lawsuits yielding a total of $3 million. Murdaugh suggested to the girls’ father that they appoint a third party to serve as the personal representative for the estates of the deceased and conservator for the funds, recommending Russell Laffitte of Palmetto State Bank.
Over the years, documents show that Laffitte scrupulously doled out the funds to the Plyler sisters. A handwritten note on a disbursement to pay for a trip to Disney World made clear that Laffitte kept close tabs on the money.
However, records show that Laffitte began disbursing portions of the money to Murdaugh, loaning him hundreds of thousands of dollars from the conservatorship funds. The lawsuit alleges that Laffitte began moving around money from other client accounts to cover the debts.
Now, attorneys for the Plyler sisters are working to recoup the funds Laffitte made off of allegedly mismanaging the girls’ funds, including conservatorship fees, death settlement proceeds, and money earned off of the loans he extended from their accounts.
Laffitte is facing both state and federal charges related to this case and other financial he crimes allegedly committed with Murdaugh.