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Texas ‘affluenza’ teen’s family settles suit with paralyzed boy for $1.6 million

By Reuters
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 7:50 EDT
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Ethan Couch
 
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A Texas court has approved a settlement with a boy who was left paralyzed after he was thrown from a truck driven by a drunk teenager, who also killed four people last year in a case that touched off an emotional debate about money and justice.

The then-16-year-old driver was sentenced to probation for the deadly accident after his lawyers argued the youth suffered from “affluenza,” a condition where enormous wealth blinded him from responsibilities resulting from his actions.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize “affluenza” as a diagnosis.

The family of the teenager, through its liability insurer, was ordered to pay a lump sum of more than $1.6 million to a special needs trust for Sergio Molina, along with annuities to provide for him in coming years, according to court documents obtained on Tuesday. Molina, now 17, suffered injuries to his head, neck and spine, the documents show.

The family of the teenager has faced a series of civil suits seeking millions of dollars in damages from the four killed in the June 2013 crash outside of Fort Worth that also injured about a dozen people.

He was convicted of slamming his pickup truck loaded with people into a group helping a stranded motorist on the side of the road. He killed Breanna Mitchell, whose car broke down, Hollie and Shelby Boyles, who lived nearby and came out to help, and youth minister Brian Jennings, who stopped to help.

His blood alcohol level at the time of the incident was more than three times the legal limit for an adult.

In December, the teenager was sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to get therapy.

The youth is now being treated at a state-owned in-patient mental health facility, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper.

Lawyers for the teen and Molina were not immediately for comment.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Walsh)

Reuters
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