WMBF Investigates: Horry County paid over $2M to settle lawsuits since 2015

WMBF Investigates: Horry County paid over $2M to settle lawsuits since 2015

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – It cost Horry County $2,200 after an inmate slipped on a floor, and another $75,000 for a prisoner who said he was sexually assaulted.

Then there was $20,000 the county paid to a former employee who said he was wrongfully terminated. A woman who fell at a beach access received $135,000.

Through an investigation, WMBF News has uncovered new details about the cost of settling Horry County lawsuits.

It was learned that the county, along with the state, doles out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits filed against the county. The tax dollars residents pay help to fund the state's insurance reserve fund that pays those settlements.

In all, the county's insurance fund pays out an average of about $1 million in payouts per year.

Out of more than 100 settled suits since 2015 that WMBF reviewed, two of the lawsuits pertained to allegations of misconduct against former Horry County detective Allen Large.

Approximately $182,500, as well as nearly $66,000 in legal costs, went to one of the women who accused Large of sexual assault.

Click here to view the settlement Mobile users, scroll to the bottom of this story to see the lawsuit.

"If I was going to have sex with her or be mean to her or whatever I was supposed to do with her, why would I involve my church, my wife?" Large said, denying in a deposition that he sexually assaulted one of several women tied to his previous investigations.

Last September, Large was indicted on six counts of misconduct in office and five counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.  The indictments say the former detective knowingly used coercion to engage in sexual battery with several victims. He faces a hearing date this September unless he takes a plea deal.

One of his accusers, known as Jane Doe 1, settled her lawsuit out of court for $182,500, as well as $66,000 more to cover the legal costs.

Another suit against Large, filed by a woman identified as Jane Doe 5, was resolved for $20,000.

The money comes from the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, which cost Horry County roughly $2 million a year in premiums during each of the last two years.

That fund is paying out nearly $1 million annually to settle cases like this over the past two-and-a-half years. Then there is another $11,177.50 for legal expenses paid to the IRF's attorneys for defending another local case, which was dismissed.

Daryl Williams, another former Horry County detective, filed the suit, alleging complaints of racial and religious discrimination.

Click here to view the lawsuit. Mobile users, scroll to the bottom of this story to see the lawsuit.

Regarding a transfer Williams wanted, the lawsuit claimed in part, "The defendant failed to hire the plaintiff for any positions based on the plaintiff's race. And, that the defendant subjected the plaintiff to a hostile work environment based on his race, religion and complaint regarding the discrimination."

In 2016 an internal investigation by the Horry County Police Department found that he didn't investigate 88 cases, leaving 123 victims without proper justice. Now, Williams is charged with misconduct in office for mishandling those investigations, according to the South Carolina Attorney General's Office's indictments.

Among the largest of payouts - $200,000 plus nearly $15,000 in legal fees - comes among the largest of losses. Authorities found the body of a 65-year-old Socastee woman in November 2012 in a car in the water off of Peachtree Road.

Click here to view the lawsuit. Mobile users, scroll to the bottom of this story to see the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed by her family and settled last July, claimed the county didn't have proper signs about the boat landing she drove off of.

As part of the settlement, the county was required to make changes to the property, including signage about the approaching landing.

There are several settlements involving former Horry County employees, such as $20,000 plus $16,000 more in legal costs to one over wrongful termination.

Another $8,000, plus $28,000 in legal costs, was paid for a county employee age discrimination settlement. An ADA discrimination settlement for another employee netted $36,000 in total payouts

Then there was a total of $107,000 in payouts for alleged wrongful firing and racial discrimination, as well as $52,000 more in legal fees for a settlement for a county employee fired for alleged race discrimination.

Another case ended with $27,000 in total payouts for alleged discrimination. Additionally, nearly $60,000 in total fees were paid for a former Horry County officer who claimed he was wrongfully terminated.

Nearly $64,000 more in total fees went to a former Horry County firefighter who said the former fire chief never fulfilled a promise to rehire him after criminal charges were dismissed. A former Horry County detective, and officer of the month within the department, was paid $9,000, plus nearly $19,000 in legal fees, in a settlement over retaliation and discrimination.

Then there was a total of $145,000 paid out for alleged sexual assault by an inmate.

The county also paid nearly $75,000 to settle a dispute over a denied application for zoning compliance after the owners attempted to build a Gold Club along Restaurant Row.

Approximately $5,000 in losses and nearly $15,000 in legal costs went to the family of one woman, whose relatives claimed malpractice and requested an autopsy, but say before the autopsy was performed, the body was cremated.

Another $135,000 went to a woman who fell at a beach access.

In total Horry County, paid out more than $2,200,000 to plaintiffs through the State Insurance Reserve Fund between January 2015 and June of this year. That is similar to payouts from other similarly-sized counties like Spartanburg and Greenville.

These settlements range in topics from pothole damage to wrongful termination, and even false arrest. A detailed list of these cases can be seen below:

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