Families sue 'affluenza' drink driving teen

Last updated 11:27 19/12/2013
SUFFERING FROM BEING RICH: Ethan Couch killed four people while drink driving.
SUFFERING FROM BEING RICH: Ethan Couch killed four people while drink driving.

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A US teen who escaped jail for a fatal drunken crash by claiming he was too rich to know right from wrong is being sued by his victims' families.

District Judge Jean Boyd gave Ethan Couch 10 years' probation last week after a sentencing hearing in which Couch's attorneys argued his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility - an affliction one witness called "affluenza".

Prosecutors had asked for a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Couch's blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and there were traces of Valium in his system when he lost control of his pickup, slamming into a group of people helping a woman whose car had stalled.

Four people were killed. Seven passengers were riding in Couch's truck

Couch faces five lawsuits brought by families of the crash victims. The suits also target Couch's father, Fred Couch, as well as Fred's company, Cleburne Metal Works, which owned the truck Couch was driving during the fatal wreck.

North Texas prosecutors were meanwhile trying a second time to imprison then teen.

Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon has asked a juvenile judge to put Couch behind bars on two cases of intoxication assault that he said were still pending before the court, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

"During his recent trial, the 16-year-old admitted his guilt in four cases of intoxication manslaughter and two cases of intoxication assault," Shannon said in an email to the newspaper. "There has been no verdict formally entered in the two intoxication assault cases. Every case deserves a verdict."

Two teens riding in the back of Couch's Ford F-350 pickup in the June wreck suffered critical injuries. According to testimony, one of them, Sergio Molina, is paralysed and can communicate only by blinking.

- Agencies

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