Several months after a bride was killed on her wedding night by an alleged drunken driver, her mother and her husband are quarreling over who should be in charge of the dead woman’s estate, according to WSOC.
In a case that garnered national attention, Samantha Miller was riding in a golf cart leaving her April 28 oceanside wedding when she, her new husband Aric Hutchinson and two of Hutchinson’s family members were struck by a car being driven 40 miles over the speed limit, police said.
Miller, 34, died at the scene. Hutchinson suffered a brain injury and broken bones, The Post and Courier reported.
The driver, Jamie Lee Komoroski, was charged with reckless vehicular homicide and three counts of felony driving under the influence.
As the months have passed, Hutchinson and Miller’s mother, Lisa Miller, have become locked in a legal battle over who should be filing wrongful death lawsuits in Samantha Miller’s death.
Lisa Miller is contesting the validity of her daughter’s hours-old marriage to Hutchinson and has petitioned a probate judge to remove Hutchinson as the personal representative of his wife’s estate, citing “issues of potential fraud” and “conflicts of interests,” The Post and Courier reported.
Hutchinson has filed a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of his deceased wife’s estate in Charleston County’s Court of Common Pleas.
The wrongful death lawsuit names several area bars accused of serving Komoroski beyond the point of intoxication.
According to the Post and Courier, the lawsuit is nearing a settlement with three defendants, court documents indicate.
Hutchinson’s attorneys in a Dec. 1 memo said Miller’s motion to remove Hutchinson as Samantha’s personal representative was “morally questionable” and “legally baseless,” according to WCSC.
The memo went on to say that Miller was trying to derail a financial settlement between Hutchinson and several bars in the Folly Beach area in order to obtain money to which she has no legal right.
According to South Carolina law, if a married person without children dies without a will, their spouse is entitled to all property and money and serves as the personal representative of the person’s estate.
A Charleston County probate judge ruled on May 1 that Hutchinson and Samantha Miller’s marriage was valid, and on May 10 Hutchinson became the personal representative of his wife’s estate.
“Aric has been more than generous with Lisa Miller — offering her half of the money — and she has repaid him by threatening to bring a frivolous challenge to the validity of his marriage to Sam,” one of Hutchinson’s attorneys, Patrick Wooten, told The Post and Courier.
“One would hope that Ms. Miller would have too much respect for her own daughter to do that,” he added.
According to Lisa Miller, she declined the offer because she would not be allowed to speak out about the settlement.
“Aric and I agreed several times that Sam would want us to do everything together given we’re the two most important people in her life,” she told The Post and Courier. “I never wanted to challenge the validity of the marriage. I never wanted to dishonor Sam. But I feel like Aric is dishonoring my daughter in going against her wishes.”
Her attorney, Jerry Meehan, defended his and his client’s actions.
“Our main reason to intervene is to protect the Estate of Samantha Miller and all of its rightful heirs,” Meehan told The Post and Courier in an email. “There is no reason to rush the process and cloak (it) in secrecy if you have nothing to hide.”