CHARLESTON – A man has sued the City of Charleston and a member of its fire department for a 2004 vehicle accident, but the defendants say the case should be dismissed.

In the lawsuit filed last month in Kanawha Circuit Court, Lawrence Shepherd says that on July 24, 2004, Charleston firefighter Jon Howard Casto carelessly and negligently was driving an emergency vehicle at an excessive rate of speed and collided with his vehicle.

In the lawsuit, filed by attorney William H. Harding, Shepherd claims Casto had a duty to maintain control of the vehicle and operate it in a safe and lawful manner. He says the city is liable for his injuries.

As a result of the accident, Shepherd says he suffered and will continue to suffer bodily injuries requiring medical treatment and related expenses. He also says he has suffered and will continue to suffer physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, limitation in his activities and a diminution in his ability to enjoy his life.

Casto and the city, through attorneys Karen Tracy McElhinny and Jason E. Wandling of Shuman, McCuskey & Slicer PLLC, want the claim dismissed.

They contend that Casto, as an employee of a political subdivision, is entitled to immunity under the Governmental Tort Claims and Insurance Reform Act.

"An officer, agent, employee, or servant, whether compensated or not, whether full time or not, who was authorized to act and is acting within the scope of his or her employment for a political subdivision," they answer in the filing. "'Employee' includes any elected or appointed official of a political subdivision. 'Employee' does not include an independent contractor of a political subdivision."

Shepherd seeks judgment against the defendants jointly and severally to compensate for damages, including past and future medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, limitation in activities and diminution in his ability to enjoy his life. He also seeks damages and pre-judgment interest, attorney fees, expenses and other relief.

Shepherd seeks a jury trial.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 05-C-2769

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