Fort Worth

First liability settlement approved for injured teen in Couch case

The family of a seriously injured teenage boy has reached a settlement of more than $2 million with the family of a teenager who was driving a speeding pickup last year when it started a chain reaction of collisions, killing four people and injuring 12.

Maria Lemus and Sergio Molina sued the family of Ethan Couch of Fort Worth on behalf of their son, Sergio Molina, saying that his injuries from the wreck have left him unable to do anything more than blink his eyes.

Sergio Molina was riding in the bed of Couch’s pickup the night of June 15, 2013, when the pickup swerved in the 1500 block of Burleson-Retta Road in southern Tarrant County, hitting a stranded motorist and three people who had stopped to help her. The pickup also plowed into a parked car, sending it into a Volkswagen Beetle driving in the opposite direction. Couch’s pickup flipped and smashed into a tree.

Sergio Molina flew out and landed on his head.

In the settlement reached Friday in 96th state District Court, Fred and Tonya Couch’s liability insurer agreed to pay $1.638 million cash to the Sergio E. Molina Special Needs Trust. The Couches’ insurer also agreed to purchase two sets of annuities to provide payments to the trust, beginning in July, of $1,515 monthly and of $1,837 monthly, both for life and guaranteed for 25 years.

The settlement also provides for attorneys’ fees. The attorneys representing Lemus and Molina, and Fred and Tonya Couch could not be reached to comment on Monday.

Five other families of the injured or killed have settled with the Couches, pending court approval. The family of Lucas McConnell, who was injured, is the only one not to settle, saying a jury trial is their means of seeking justice.

Ethan Couch, who was 16 at the time of the crash, was sentenced to 10 years’ probation, during which time he may not drink alcohol or use drugs and may not drive. He was also ordered to get treatment in a “lockdown” addiction facility. In April, it was learned that he is being treated at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, a state-owned in-patient mental health facility.

Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696

Twitter: @fwstliz

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