The parents of “Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch are beginning to settle out of court with the families of their son’s victims. They agreed to pay undisclosed amounts to the families of Breanna Mitchell and Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby. A settlement with the family of youth pastor Brian Jennings is also in negotiation, while other lawsuits are also still pending.
Couch killed four people and severely injured two others while driving drunk and high last June, with police reporting that his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit. However, he avoided jail time and was sentenced to 10 years probation after his attorneys argued that his wealth prevented him from learning the difference between right and wrong. He is now residing in a $450,000 per year treatment facility in Newport Beach, CA, which his parents are footing the bill for.
Last month, the teenager avoided jail once again after pleading guilty to two intoxication assault counts stemming from the crash. He could have faced up to three years in juvenile hall on the charges, but Judge Jean Boyd ordered him to return to the rehab facility he is residing in.
The affluenza diagnosis given by Dr. Gary Miller argued that Couch “never learned to say that you’re sorry if you hurt someone. If you hurt someone, you sent him money.” Miller also said the teen had an “intellectual age” of 18, but an “emotional age” of 12.
One of the two people still alive after the incident, 16-year-old Sergio Molas, is now completely paralyzed and requires 24-hour care as he is “minimally conscious.” He can only communicate with his family by blinking. Doctors have told his parents that they should not expect any improvements beyond his current condition. They have sued Couch’s family and his father’s business for $20 million in damages.