Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

October 2, 2013

3rd lawsuit filed in Burleson wreck

By Tammye Nash/reporter3@trcle.com

The mother of a woman killed in a June 15 multi-vehicle crash on Burleson-Retta Road has filed suit against the parents of the 16-year-old boy who was driving the truck that caused the accident.

It is the third civil suit stemming from the wreck to be filed against Fred and Tanya Couch and the company they own, Cleburne Metal Works. All three lawsuits have included the company as a defendant because the truck Ethan Couch was driving was registered to Cleburne Metal Works.

Ethan Couch faces four counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of intoxication assault. The criminal case against him is set to go to trial in a Tarrant County juvenile court in November.

Breanna Mitchell, 24, was driving west on Burleson-Retta Road shortly before midnight on June 15, when a blow-out sent her Mercury Mountaineer swerving into the ditch on the shoulder of the road. Brian Jennings, 41, youth pastor at Burleson’s Alsbury Baptist Church, stopped to help Mitchell. Holli Boyles, 52, and her daughter, Shelby Boyles, 21, had walked over from their home nearby to help, too.

Ethan Couch, driving a Ford F350 pickup west on Burleson-Retta Road allegedly left the road and struck Mitchell’s vehicle before hitting Jennings and the three women, who were standing nearby, killing all four.

Couch and the seven teenagers in his truck were all taken to area hospitals with varying degrees of injuries. Two youngsters in Jennings’ pickup were taken by ambulance to Cook Children’s Medical Center but were not seriously injured.

According to the lawsuit filed Monday in Tarrant County civil court, Marla Mitchell was on her way to pick up her daughter and was talking on the phone with Breanna when the accident happened. Marla Mitchell arrived at the scene of the accident shortly after to find her daughter and the three people who had come to her aid lying dead amid the wreckage.

Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office investigators have said Ethan Couch had a blood-alcohol content of about three times the legal limit at the time of the crash, and that he was driving about 70 mph in a 40 mph zone. Some reports indicate the teenager may also have been texting someone on his cell phone when the wreck happened.

Marla Mitchell is represented by Tyler attorney Rory Dukes.

The parents of Sergio Molina, one of two teenagers riding the bed of Ethan Couch’s pickup at the time of the wreck, were the first to file a civil suit against the Couches and Cleburne Metal Works. Sergio and the other teen were thrown from the truck in the collision, and Sergio Molina remains hospitalized in a coma.

The Molina family is represented by attorney Bill Berenson, with offices in Fort Worth, Arlington and Houston.

Brian Jennings’ wife, Shaunna, their children Evan, Abigail and Micah, and Jennings’ mother, Janet Henson filed a civil suit last week. They are represented by Greg Coontz of Coontz Cochran in Burleson and W. Burton Baker of Lummus, Hallman, Pritchard and Baker, P.C., in Cleburne.