Lack’s Beach Service wants new trial in 2019 wrongful death lawsuit, records show

The motions were filed earlier this month. Motions opposing the new trial were filed earlier this week.
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 6:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A wrongful death lawsuit connected to drowning in 2018 in Myrtle Beach may force lawyers, the family involved and representatives for Lack’s Beach Service back into a courtroom.

Initially, the city of Myrtle Beach was also named in the lawsuit, but the city was dismissed, just a few days before the start of the week-long trial back in July.

The trial centered on the August 2018 drowning of Zerihun Wolde, who according to court records, was a 41-year-old father of four from Silver Springs, Maryland.

The original lawsuit was filed in November of 2019. It was not tried until late last month.

Just a few days before the trial, the city of Myrtle Beach was dismissed from the lawsuit.

“As far as I am aware, there has been no appeal of that dismissal or anything, so the city is out of it for all intents and purposes at this point,” said Kelli Sullivan, a lawyer on the team representing the city of Myrtle Beach.

At the conclusion of the trial, a jury decided to award Meswaet Abel, the plaintiff and fiancé of Zerihun Wolde, more than $20 million.

A week after the trial ended, three new motions were filed. Court records show attorneys for Lack’s Beach Service are asking for two different things: a new trial or a reduction in the amount awarded.

The records show the beach service feels because it has a contract with the city of Myrtle Beach, it should only have to pay as little as $300,000, since they lawyers believe the company is protected under state governmental immunity laws.

”I don’t know exact statistics but I’ve filed a lot of these motions in my career and I’ve never had one granted. That doesn’t mean this one won’t be. It was a long trial and there were a lot of contested issues regarding different pieces of evidence,” said Sullivan.

Attorney Chris Pracht is on the team representing the Abel and Wolde family.

He sent WMBF News the following statement: “We have great faith that Judge Curtis will deny these motions. She tried an excellent case and we don’t believe made any errors in her rulings related to the post-trial motions. Furthermore we think the jury returned a very measured and thoughtful verdict that reflected the evidence presented at trial.”

WMBF news reached out to the city of Myrtle Beach for comment but we were told “the city does not comment on pending litigation.”

We also tried to reach lawyers representing Lack’s Beach Service multiple times and we have not heard back.