Victims' Families File Lawsuits Against “Affluenza” Teen

Five suits filed by families of victims

The families of victims injured or killed in a drunk driving crash that's gained national media attention have filed civil suits against the 16-year-old North Texas teen that was behind the wheel.

Ethan Couch was sentenced to treatment and 10 years of probation instead of prison for the deadly June crash, a decision that sparked outrage after the teen's defense strategy included testimony that Couch suffered from "affluenza" -- a diagnosis not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association that refers to an upbringing so privileged that a person is unable to discern right from wrong.

Five civil suits have been filed related to the June crash, including three suits from the families of the four pedestrians killed in the crash. All the suits were filed between September and November of 2013, prior to Couch's sentencing.

Eric and Marguerite Boyles are suing on behalf of the estate of Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, who were struck and killed by the truck driven by Couch. Eric Boyles, the husband of Hollie and father of Shelby lives in Burleson. Marguerite Boyles is Eric and Hollie's other daughter who lives out of state. The Boyles are seeking damages in excess of $1 million in the case.

Marla Mitchell, the mother of Breanna Mitchell, was on the phone with her daughter, whose car was broken down on the side of the road, when Breanna was struck and killed by the truck driven by Couch.  Mitchell is seeking unspecified damages.

Shaunna Jennings, wife of the youth pastor who stopped to help Breanna Mitchell, is seeking unspecified damages for her and their 3 children. Her husband, Brian Jennings, was also struck and killed by Couch.

Additionally, two people who were injured in the crash have filed suit against Couch.

Maria Lemus and Jesus Molina are the parents of Sergio Molina, who was riding in the bed of Couch's truck when he was thrown during the crash. Their son sustained a severe brain injury and is no longer able to move or talk. The family is seeking damages of $20 million.

Kevin and Alesia McConnell are the parents of Lucas McConnell, who was riding with Jennings and was injured in the wreck. The McConnells are seeking unspecified damages.

In the suits filed by the McConnells, Shaunna Jennings, and Marla Mitchell, both Ethan Couch's father, Fred, and mother, Tonya, are included. The plaintiffs claim the parents "knowingly allowed Ethan, a minor with previous alcohol offenses, to operate a vehicle that evening."

Couch's father, Fred, is included in all the cases. Additionally, Fred Couch's company, Cleburne Metal Works, is also targeted in all suits. The company owned the Ford F-350 driven by Couch in the crash.

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