MOUNDSVILLE - A Marshall County couple is suing Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. for prolonging the settling of a separate claim against it.

Richard and Norma Rickrode filed the lawsuit May 22 in Marshall Circuit Court through attorney James Robinson of Robinson Law Offices in Wheeling.

The lawsuit alleges that Nationwide delayed the settlement of a complaint against it that stemmed from the Rickrodes' automobile accident with a drunk driver.

The Rickrodes say Patrick Carney's 1995 Chevrolet Camaro crossed the yellow line and struck their 1999 Nissan Truck on Nov. 12, 1999, in Bethlehem.

Carney, they say, was found to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.21 and was found to be liable for the collision.

The Rickrodes' policy had bodily injury limits for underinsured motor vehicle incidents of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence.

However, the Rickrodes say Nationwide would not pay for bills incurred because of the wreck and filed a lawsuit to against it.

"Plaintiffs… by and through their agents and representatives made numerous demands and were wrongfully denied by Defendant Nationwide to settled their claim for the underinsured motor vehicle insurance policy benefits against their automobile insurance policy purchased and contracted from Defendant Nationwide," the complaint says.

They say Nationwide employed the services of: Gerald E. Lofstead, III, Dana F. Eddy and Amy Pigg Shafer of the Law Offices of Dana F. Eddy; the Nationwide Trial Division; and Mark E. Kepple and Thomas E. Buck of Bailey and Wyant in Wheeling.

The Rickrodes also had to hire counsel and are suing Nationwide to recover the attorneys' fees they incurred while waiting on Nationwide to settle.

They charge Nationwide with violating the West Virginia Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, common law claim misconduct, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and violation of fiduciary duty.

The Rickrodes are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Judge Mark Karl has been assigned the case.

Marshall Circuit Court case number 06-C-117K

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