Teen Paralyzed in ‘Affluenza’ Case Receives Settlement

Sergio Molina
Sergio Molina

The family of a Texas teenager who was paralyzed after the driver of the truck he was riding in slammed into three good samaritans is set to receive more than $2 million, according to court documents seen by USA Today.


Sergio Molina, 17, was injured after 16-year-old Ethan Couch crashed his pickup into a group of three bystanders who were trying to help Breanna Mitchell, whose car had stalled June 15. Mitchell, Brian Jennings, Hollie Boyes and daughter Shelby were all killed after Ethan crashed into them. Sergio was thrown from the bed of Ethan's Ford F-350 truck and landed on his head.

Ethan became the focus of national attention after his attorneys argued that the 16-year-old's sense of entitlement led him to poor judgment. The attorneys called his disease "affluenza." After the judge sentenced Ethan to probation and rehabilitation, Ethan became the poster boy for the disparity in sentencing for the wealthy and the poor. 

Several of the injured have sued Ethan's family and their company, Cleburne Metal Works. Settlements in those cases have not been disclosed, USA Today reports.

According to records seen by the newspaper, Sergio is to receive more than $1 million in cash and close to $800,000 in early payments for the next few decades. His family will receive a separate cash payment of $215,000 in addition to approximately $950,000 for ongoing legal fees.

Sergio, who has been in the hospital since the accident, was riding in the back of Ethan's pickup when it flipped. His parents told the Associated Press that the 17-year-old can only smile and blink. His parents were seeking a more substantial sum, since Sergio's medical expenses have already exceeded $600,000, and lifetime care could cost more than $10 million, AP reports.

Alexander Lemus, his older brother, told AP that the family was disappointed in the settlement. "We're not happy about it, but we just have to take what we got and strive for better days."

Read more at USA Today and the Associated Press.