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Several lawsuits and settlements have been swirling around the Texas teenager who blamed his drunken driving car accident on a condition his attorney termed “affluenza.” Affluenza, his attorney argued in the criminal case, impaired the sixteen year-old boy’s judgment. The “condition” is allegedly due to a mix of wealth and poor parenting.
Ethan Couch, the defendant, admitted to consuming alcohol before crashing his father’s pickup truck in an accident that killed four people and injured twelve others. Despite the egregious repercussions of his underage drinking and driving, Couch was sentenced to only ten years probation, with no jail time.
The defense argued in the criminal case that he suffered from affluenza, a condition brought on by wealth and poor parenting that made him not criminally responsible for his actions.
The family has since settled several lawsuits against the teenager. Although the four wrongful death settlements were kept confidential by agreement, the most recent settlement award has been announced. That settlement awards $2 million to the family of Sergio Molina, a 16 year-old boy who was riding in the back seat of Couch’s pickup truck. When the truck flipped over, Molina and another passenger were thrown from the truck bed. Molina is paralyzed, requires constant medical care, and can only communicate through blinking and smiling.
According to Molina’s family, they are not fully satisfied with the settlement figure. However, they did agree to the amount nonetheless. According to some estimates, the settlement will only pay for a fraction of Molina’s continued medical care, which costs $750 per day. Since the accident occurred, Molina’s family has already accrued more than $1 million in medical bills.
Kevin McConnell, the father of a 13 year-old boy who was injured in the wreck, says his family refuses to settle. The McConnell family is seeking a jury trial in the hopes that some sense can be made of Couch’s decisions and actions, and that the matter is judged by a jury.