Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Owner of Stolen Car Not Liable for Ensuing Crash

(CN) - A Wyoming woman is not liable after a drug addict stole the car she left running and injured two children in a subsequent crash, the state's highest court ruled.

Nanette Holbrook had driven to work in December 2009 but returned to her house to retrieve the pocketbook she left behind.

Colbey Emms, a methamphetamine user, found the car unattended and still running.

Police pursued after Emms drove off in the stolen car. Eventually he crashed into the vehicle of Katrina Lucero, seriously injuring her 5-year-old child and 6-month-old infant.

Lucero sued Holbrook on behalf of herself and the children for leaving the car unattended with the keys in the ignition.

A Natrona County judge granted Holbrook summary judgment, ruling that she did not owe a duty to Lucero, and that leaving the keys in the ignition was not the proximate cause of the accident.

Lucero argued that state law prohibits cars from being left running and unattended, but the Wyoming Supreme Court said Friday that this law applies only to public highways.

"We cannot say that the appellants' injuries resulting from a subsequent high-speed chase were a foreseeable consequence of the appellee's act of momentarily leaving her car unattended in her driveway," Judge Barton Voigt wrote for a five-member panel.

There was blame to go around for Emms, who was driving under the influence of drugs; the police, who were chasing him; and even Lucero, who had run a red light, the decision states.

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