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DUI Accident Citing “Affluenza” Settled for $2M

One of the victims in a fatal DUI accident has settled a claim for more than $2 million. The case involved 16-year-old Ethan Couch, a Fort Worth teenager who was drinking and driving with friends. The accident led to the deaths of four people and to injuries that paralyzed Sergio Molina, a passenger in Couch’s truck and the plaintiff in the suit. An investigation into the DUI accident showed that Couch’s blood alcohol concentration was more than three times the legal limit.

Defense Cites “Affluenza” in DUI Accident Case

Couch’s legal defense team coined the term “affluenza” to describe his lack of discipline from his well-to-do parents. Lawyers and a psychologist for the defense attempted to show that Couch did not understand the consequences of his actions due to the posh and sheltered environment provided by his parents. Although “affluenza” is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental illness, the defense team was successful in avoiding jail time for their client. The judge in the criminal case sentenced Couch to ten years of probation and a stay in a state-owned mental health facility.

DUI Accident Kills Four, Injures Others

The DUI accident, which occurred in June 2013, led to the deaths of four people. Hollie and Shelby Boyles, a mother and daughter, and Brian Jennings, a youth minister, stopped to help Breanna Mitchell, a stranded motorist whose car broke down just outside Fort Worth. Couch slammed his pickup truck into the car and the Good Samaritans, who were pushing the car off the road. The DUI accident also led to a dozen injuries, including neck and back injuries that left Molina paralyzed from the neck down.

Annuities Made Part of DUI Accident Settlement

The civil settlement in the DUI accident includes a trust for Molina and his family in the amount of $1.64 million, plus attorney’s fees, which will push the final total over $2 million. The settlement also includes two sets of annuities that will pay a monthly stipend for the next 25 years. Some of the other families involved in the DUI accident also received settlements, but the details of those amounts have not been disclosed. Some civil cases against Couch from other families affected by the accident are still pending.

Source: Reuters

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