Judge upholds $20 million owed to plaintiff in Lack’s Beach Service lawsuit

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Published: Dec. 1, 2022 at 5:37 PM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A judge has ruled against a Grand Strand lifeguard company trying to reduce how much it owes in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In a ruling signed on Nov. 23, a judge found the $20 million in damages against Lack’s Beach Service “is not grossly excessive or unduly liberal.” The ruling came from a lawsuit stemming from the 2018 drowning death of Zerihun Wolde. It’s unclear if there will be an appeal.

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The original lawsuit was filed in 2019 against Lack’s and the City of Myrtle Beach before being tried in July 2022. The city was then removed from the suit just days before it was set to go to trial.

Court documents stated Wolde was a father of four who came to Myrtle Beach for vacation from Maryland. The lawsuit claimed there were no warning signs regarding rip currents that day and lifeguards did not warn swimmers. Lifeguards also did not respond to calls for help from Wolde’s fiancé, according to the lawsuit.

A jury eventually ruled in favor of Wolde’s fiancé, who was the plaintiff in the case. A week after the ruling, however, attorneys for Lack’s Beach Service filed motions asking for either a new trial or a reduction in the amount awarded.

Records showed the attorneys for the beach service felt that because it had a contract with the City of Myrtle Beach, it should only have had to pay as little as $300,000 due to protections from state government immunity laws.

Stay with WMBF News for updates.