West Virginia Record

Sunday, October 13, 2019

State Farm says it isn't liable for man over stolen car suit

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 13, 2008

CHARLESTON -- An insurance company has filed a federal suit against a Wood County man, claiming it should not be held responsible to pay any damages or defend the man in another lawsuit.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company claims Jared C. Hershberger has been sued by Zachary Collins after he helped Collins steal a car that Collins was later injured in, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

Hershberger picked up Byron Amos, Zach Bowers and Collins at Wal-Mart in his parents' 1995 Subaru Legacy without their knowledge or permission on May 6, the suit states.

Hershberger drove the three to an area where they had previously found a GMC Sierra and a Pontiac Grand-Am with keys in them, the insurance company claims.

Hershberger then returned home, according to the complaint.

Later that evening, Amos, who was driving the stolen Sierra with Collins as his passenger, was racing Bowers, who was driving the stolen Grand Am, on Interstate 77, the suit states.

State Farm claims Amos crashed, killing himself and injuring Collins.

Since then, Collins has filed suit against Hershberger, claiming he participated in stealing the vehicle, according to the complaint.

Hershberger has asked State Farm to help him pay for and defend him from the claims Collins has made, the suit states.

But at the time of the incident, the Legacy was registered only to James and Linda Hershberger, State Farm claims.

In its policy, it says it will pay damages and defend any suit when a car is in the lawful possession of the person operating it, according to the complaint.

"State Farm asserts that the accident and damages alleged in the suit against Defendant and the potential claim of the Estate of Amos did not result from the ownership, maintenance, or use of the 1995 Subaru Legacy," the suit states.

It is seeking a judgment that its policy language is valid and enforceable and that it does not owe Hershberger defense against or indemnity from the claims in Collins's lawsuit or for potential claims of the Estate of Amos.

Todd A. Mount of Shaffer & Shaffer in Madison will be representing the company.

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