Judge rules father of drunk driving crash victim deserves no compensation

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 24 at 11:15 AM

FORT WORTH -- The widow of youth pastor Brian Jennings broke down on the witness stand Friday.

Her husband was among four people killed in the drunk driving crash of then-16-year-old Ethan Couch last year.

Shaunna Jennings had to appear in civil court because her husband's estranged father claimed a portion of the financial settlement stemming from the crash.

John Paul Jennings had a legal right to the claim, but the judge ruled he didn't deserve anything.

John Paul Jennings admitted in court he had not seen or spoken to his son in 15 years, and was barely in his life before that. He could not name any of Brian's three children.

Families of the dead and injured sued the Couch family and Cleburne Metal Works, the company owned by Couch's father. Ethan Couch was driving his father's company truck at the time of the crash.

Attorneys say settlements already have been reached with Eric Boyles for the deaths of his wife, Hollie, and daughter, Shelby, and with Marla Mitchell for the loss of her daughter, Brianna. The amounts of those settlements are to remain secret.

A settlement was also reached with the family of Isaiah McLaughlin, a teen who was severely injured while he was riding in Brian Jennings' truck, which flipped in the crash. McLaughlin will be paid a total of nearly $114,000 in the agreement.

In all, six civil lawsuits were filed against the Couch family and Cleburne Metal Works. So far, three of those cases have been settled.

An attorney for Brian Jennings' family said he hopes they can start to put this part of their ordeal behind them soon.

Ethan Couch pleaded guilty to intoxication manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years probation and two years of intensive therapy in a rehabilitation facility. He is currently supposed to be in treatment at an undisclosed location.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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