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'Affluenza' Teen's Family Settles With Some Victims

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

The family of the "affluenza" teen sentenced to probation after a fatal DUI crash has decided to settle lawsuits brought by some of the victims.

Ethan Couch's family has agreed to settle with the families of Breanna Mitchell and Hollie and Shelby Boyles -- all three allegedly killed by Couch, then 16, in June, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Youth pastor Brian Jennings was also killed in the crash, but a settlement with his family has not yet been reached.

'Affluenza' Family Pays Up

Although their deaths are tragedies, in a small way, Couch's "affluenza" is a boon. Wrongful death suits are almost always an option for the families of drunken driving victims, but few of the culprits have the money to properly compensate the plaintiffs.

If Couch or his family had been penniless, the victims' families would likely have received nothing, and yet would still have to deal with their losses.

You can't get blood from a stone, but the Couches have "blood" to spare. By paying "an undisclosed amount" to the Mitchell and Boyles families, as the Morning News reports, the Couches can close off some of the largest sources of civil liability opened by their son Ethan.

Why Settle?

Given the fact that Couch had already admitted guilt and was convicted in juvenile court for causing the four deaths, settling really was the Couches' best option. Since criminal convictions require a higher standard of proof than civil charges, Couch's convictions would have been more than adequate proof of the teen's responsibility for the killings.

By settling these civil claims out of court, the Couches save their son and their family from having to endure a long public trial -- not to mention a jury of their peers, which isn't likely to adore their "affluenza"-afflicted son.

Victims' families -- like the Mitchells and the Boyleses -- can also avoid the pain of reliving their loved ones' deaths through trial via a settlement, with the hope that the settlement funds can help them to move on.

Still, there are others who survived the crash, like paralyzed teen Sergio Molina, whose families are still awaiting justice, reports the Morning News.

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