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Two families of victims killed by Texas 'affluenza' teen reach settlement

By Jana J Pruet

DALLAS (Reuters) - The family of a Texas teen who killed four people while driving drunk about a year ago has reached a settlement with two of the families of the victims who sued for compensation, lawyers said on Wednesday.

The case set off an emotional debate after the teen was sentenced to probation for the deaths, with a psychologist for the defense saying the youth suffered from "affluenza," a condition where enormous wealth blinded the youth from the responsibilities resulting from his actions.

The American Psychiatric Association does not recognize "affluenza" as a diagnosis.

The settlement amounts were not disclosed. The teen's family is still facing civil lawsuits from the family of another man killed in the incident and two others injured in the crash.

Todd Clement, a lawyer representing two of the people killed - Hollie Boyles and her daughter, Shelby - said a settlement had been reached, but provided no further comment.

Rory Dukes, a lawyer representing the family of Breanna Mitchell, said his case had been resolved, without offering further comment.

In January, one of the lawyers suing the family told Reuters that plaintiffs in the cases may be entitled to monetary damages of up to $20 million each.

The court found that the youth hit and killed four people with his pickup truck. The victims were Mitchell, whose car broke down on a rural road near Fort Worth; Hollie and Shelby Boyles, who lived nearby and came out to help; and youth minister Brian Jennings, who stopped to help the stranded motorist.

All four were killed and two people riding in the teen's pickup truck were severely injured in the crash. One of them was left paralyzed, prosecutors said.

At the time of the incident, the teenager's blood alcohol count was three times the legal limit for an adult, prosecutors said.

In December, juvenile court Judge Jean Boyd sentenced the then-16-year-old to 10 years' probation and ordered him to get therapy, a decision that led to a backlash among those who thought the family had used its wealth to keep the teen out of jail.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Richard Chang)

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