The grieving groom whose bride was killed by an accused drunk driver on their wedding night is now embroiled in a bitter fight over her estate with his mother-in-law — who is even challenging the validity of the marriage.
Aric Hutchinson had assumed control of Samantha Miller’s estate after his 34-year-old bride was killed in April when their golf cart was rear-ended as they left their wedding reception in South Carolina, leaving him also needing multiple surgeries for broken bones.
But the dead bride’s mum, Lisa Miller, has filed a petition to remove him as the personal representative, citing “issues of potential fraud” — suggesting his marriage to her daughter could be invalid, according to the Post and Courier.
Her attorney has also filed, withdrawn and refiled a motion to intervene in a wrongful death suit Hutchinson filed against local bars for serving the accused drunk driver — one expected to procure a lofty settlement, the New York Post reports.
The mum said her daughter would have wanted her to get a share of her inheritance, but Hutchinson’s legal team was sidelining her.
“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,” Ms Miller told the Post and Courier.
“I never wanted to challenge the validity of the marriage. I never wanted to dishonour Sam.
“But I feel like Aric is dishonouring my daughter in going against her wishes,” Ms Miller said of the son-in-law she previously gushed over as the loving, “male version” of her daughter.
Miller’s attorney, Jerry Meehan, also said his client’s “main reason to intervene is to protect the Estate of Samantha Miller and all of its rightful heirs.
“There is no reason to rush the process and cloak [it] in secrecy,” he claimed. “This was a money grab from minute one.”
Hutchinson’s lawyers called Ms Miller’s motion to intervene “morally questionable” and “legally baseless” — while denying her claim that she was being cut out.
“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,” Hutchinson’s attorney Patrick Wooten told the newspaper.
“One would hope that Ms. Miller would have too much respect for her own daughter to do that.”
He has offered his mother-in-law half of any recovery in the wrongful death suit on the condition that she stop pursuing legal challenges to their marriage.
“Aric has made this settlement offer not because Lisa Miller had a valid legal claim — she does not — but rather because he is a generous person and, of course, would prefer to avoid painful, public litigation over the validity of his marriage to Sam,” Mr Wooten said.
Mr Hutchinson and Ms Miller were married in Folly Beach on April 28, and a Charleston County probate judge recognised the validity of their marriage on May 1 — while Hutchinson was still in a hospital recovering from injuries he sustained in the drunk driving collision.
His aunt and uncle brought the signed marriage license and certificate to the Charleston County Probate Court Marriage License Division and the clerk provided them with additional forms to fill out.
Ms Miller’s attorneys are challenging a form in which the groom’s aunt said she had known husband and wife for 36 years — even though Samantha was only 34 when she died.
She also wrote that the couple had been living together after their wedding, despite Samantha being dead and Hutchinson being in the hospital.
Hutchinson’s lawyers admit those claims could not have been true, but said they are irrelevant in determining the validity of Samantha and Aric’s marriage — calling them a “total distraction.”
The driver, Jamie Lee Komoroski, was charged with reckless vehicular homicide and three counts of felony driving under the influence.
Komoroski will be released from jail on bond in March if prosecutors have not brought the 26-year-old to trial by then, the Post and Courier said of a judge’s recent order.
Under a settlement reached in October, Progressive Northern Insurance Co. and two local bars that allegedly served a tipsy Komoroski agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in addition to attorneys’ fees to escape liability or any claims of wrongful death or personal injury.
Hutchinson’s attorney Daniel Dalton agreed to the settlement, saying it was “reasonable and proper and fully protects the right of the statutory beneficiary under the Wrongful Death Act.”
This article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission.