'Affluenza' teen to pay victim millions

FORT WORTH — According to newly-filed documents in Tarrant County District Court, one of the victims in the Ethan Couch case has settled for close to $3 million in cash and other payments.

Sergio Molina, 17, was paralyzed in a June 2013 crash when then 16-year-old Ethan Couch killed four people south of Fort Worth. Couch was drunk. Molina was riding in the back of his pickup truck.

This story was first reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a WFAA media partner.

Molina's family and other victims filed lawsuits against Couch's family and their family company Cleburne Metal Works. Many of the settlements haven't been disclosed, but in a final civil judgment signed off on Friday by Judge R. H. Wallace, some key details emerge.

A special trust for Molina is set to receive just over $1 million in cash. There also will be close to $800,000 distributed in annuity payments over the coming decades.

Molina's family will receive a separate $215,000 cash payment. More than $950,000 is also expected to be paid toward the family's ongoing legal and attorney fees, according to the filing.

News 8 reached out to a number of the attorneys involved in the case, but has yet to hear back.

Couch was only sentenced to probation and rehabilitation by a juvenile judge in December. His defense team had an expert witness claim the young man was a victim of "affluenza," spoiled to such an extent by his parents that he never before had faced legitimate consequences for his actions. The legal turn of phrase sparked national outrage.

"The world is not ever going to take their eyes off of him," said Marla Mitchell at the time.

A car belonging to Mitchell's daughter broke down that June night. She and three others were trying to fix it when Couch plowed them over. Those families have also settled.

Some other victim's families have said they will push their civil cases through to trial.


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