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Affluenza. This phrase is now making its way into the public lexicon because of a tragic car wreck caused by an intoxicated 16-year-old boy who hailed from a well-to-do family.

The wreck resulted in four victims losing their lives and nine people suffering serious injuries, according to The reckless teen driver was facing 20 years in prison, but only got 10 years of probation because the defense argued that he suffered from the aforementioned affluenza; defined as a child who grows up surrounded by wealth and status and never learns that his actions have consequences.

Say what???

We’re really expected to accept that someone who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth should be shown leniency in court because they just had so much money and privilege, it was too much to handle? Give me a break. That’s absolute malarkey; hogwash; and any other synonym for complete B.S.

I’m astonished such a defense would be allowed in a court of law. The fact that it actually prevailed is mind boggling.

But not all hope for justice is lost.

The families of the victims have filed multiple multi-million dollar lawsuits against the at-fault driver and his parents. One lawsuit is seeking $20 million in damages, according to

Let’s see if a jury buys the “affluenza” defense. I’d bet my bottom dollar that a jury will see through this veil of psychobabble and realize that four families are now left to struggle with the loss of their loved ones and nine others are trying to rebuild their lives after suffering serious, debilitating injuries. For example, one of the victims, coincidentally a 16-year-old boy, suffered a traumatic brain injury and remains hospitalized to this day. His medical bills exceed $600,000 and may top out at over $10 million if he requires in-home care for the remainder of his life.

We can at least take some comfort in knowing that when the criminal justice system falls short, the victims still have recourse through the civil justice system.


About Our Firm: We have offices in Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Norfolk, VA along with an office in Elizabeth City, NC. Our team of personal injury attorneys publish and edit articles on three Legal Examiner sites as a pro bono service to the general public.

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