Five suits against Couch family combined

01/09/2014 7:54 AM

11/12/2014 3:50 PM

Five of the six lawsuits filed since four people were killed and 12 were injured in chain-reaction collisions on Burleson-Retta Road in June have been combined and transferred to 96th state District Court.

The suits all seek damages from Ethan Couch, 16; his parents, Fred and Tonya Couch; and his family’s company, Cleburne Metal Works.

Couch was driving drunk when his pickup, with seven teenage passengers, went out of control that night. Last month, he was sentenced in juvenile court to 10 years of probation and intensive therapy.

On Monday, state District Judge R.H. Wallace signed an order combining five suits and transferring them to his court.

The sixth suit, filed last month by Timothy and Priscilla McLaughlin on behalf of their injured son, Isaiah, was not listed among the suits combined.

Randy Nelson, an attorney representing Couch and his family, said it is not unusual to consolidate cases dealing with the same event.

“It makes sense to have these cases in one court,” Nelson said. “If there are multiple cases involving the same incident, it is common to combine them in court for judicial economy.”

State District Judge Bill Harris, the administrative judge for Tarrant County district courts, said consolidating cases dealing with a single event saves time for attorneys and court costs.

The suits previously reported in the Star-Telegram involve the four deaths and injuries to two teenagers.

The wrongful death suits were filed by Shaunna Jennings, whose husband, Brian Jennings was killed; Marla Mitchell, whose daughter Breanna Mitchell, a stranded motorist, was killed; and Eric Boyles, whose wife, Hollie Boyles, and daughter, Shelby Boyles, were killed.

The parents of two injured teenagers, Sergio Molina and Lucas McConnell, also sued.

In December, a third teenager, Solaiman Mohman, filed a petition to intervene in Shaunna Jennings’ suits. The petition did not say which vehicle he was in, nor does it give the extent of his injuries.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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