A judge in Virginia has ruled that a used-car wholesaler and its insurance company are not liable for an accident caused by an employee of an independent contractor who was supposed to deliver a vehicle to an out-of-state buyer.
Instead of taking the car directly to the buyer, the man drove it home overnight and was involved in an accident the next day, supposedly while transporting the car for delivery.
The driver had only a 'limited permitted use' of the car and exceeded that permission, Spotsylva-nia County Circuit Judge William Ledbetter Jr. ruled after a nonjury trial.
According to the decision, Mark Greenway picked up the car from a General Trading Co. used-car lot in Lorton, Va., in August 1996, telling the lot manager that he had sold it to a buyer in Maryland.
Instead of taking the car immediately to the customer, Greenway took it home overnight. The next day, he was involved in an accident that injured four people in another vehicle.
The victims sued General Tra-ding Co., which had insurance, and Greenway, who did not. General Trading Co. and its insurance company denied liability.
Sanford Friedman of Washing-ton, a lawyer for General Trading Co., said, 'He had no permission to take the vehicle home for the night.' The judge agreed, saying that General Trading Co. still had an interest in the car but that Greenway went beyond the scope of his permission, which was solely to deliver it.
The plaintiffs' lawyer, Richard Diamond of Charlottesville, said his clients will appeal.