No immediate ruling on whether Ethan Couch doctor will testify in civil case
FORT WORTH, Texas - A judge will not immediately rule on whether the psychologist who said a teenage drunken driver who killed four people had "affluenza" will have to testify in a civil case.
Judge R. H. Wallace Jr. of Fort Worth heard from attorneys Friday in the lawsuit filed against Ethan Couch, who was 16 when he rammed a pickup truck into a crowd of people. Wallace will review the arguments made and make a decision.
The crash got national attention thanks in part to the testimony of psychologist Dick Miller. He said Couch was coddled into a sense of irresponsibility by his wealthy parents, a condition he termed "affluenza." That affluenza defense got Couch 10 years’ probation rather than prison time.
The attorneys of a boy injured in the crash, Lucas McConnell, say Miller should be forced to testify again in their lawsuit, but Couch's lawyers argue that would violate attorney-client and doctor-patient privileges. Specifically, McConnell’s attorneys are attempting to prove gross negligence and need Miller's records to prove Couch's parents knew their son had alcohol and drug problems and let him use their truck anyway. Everything from the criminal trial has been sealed because it was held in juvenile court. All that’s known about Couch’s issues came from the testimony from Miller, who had about 30 sessions with Couch and a few with Couch’s parents.
"We want his records pertaining to his treatment of Ethan Couch, and then we want to be able to depose him so that he can provide the opinions that he gave in the juvenile trial, in our civil case,” said Todd Clement, an attorney for the McConnell family.
The attorneys for the McConnell family say they would love to depose not only Miller, but Couch as well. They say they know Couch is currently in treatment and they respect that; however, when he’s done with treatment, they say he will be deposed.
Attorneys for the Couch family left the courtroom on Friday without answering any of FOX 4's questions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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