Insurance company wants to block further claims against Williamstown couple charged in hit-and-run

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PITTSFIELD — The insurance company that covered a Williamstown couple accused in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident has filed a lawsuit to prevent claims beyond the $100,000 already paid to the family of the victim.

Encompass Insurance Co., based in Quincy, filed the suit in Berkshire Superior Court on Jan. 9, naming John and Sally Gould, 70 and 72, respectively, along with two relatives of the victim as defendants. The Goulds both face criminal charges in connection with the Feb. 9, 2016, accident that left Cheryl LeClaire, who was 54 at the time, in a coma and on life support. Her prognosis is "negative," according to court files.

A question remains whether the Goulds' cases will be joined together or they will be tried separately.

Encompass is asking a judge to find it is not obligated to pay in excess of the $100,000 it has paid to LeClaire's guardian Dec. 20 in settlement of a bodily injury claim against the couple's auto insurance policy.

There is a provision in the policy that states Encompass "will pay damages to people injured or killed by your auto in Massachusetts accidents."

Encompass also claims it is not obligated to provide loss of parental consortium benefits to LeClaire's child under either the Goulds' auto or homeowner's policies.

As part of the insurance investigation into the claims, both Goulds' were asked to appear for examinations, under oath. Neither appeared for those examinations, according to the complaint.

Sally Gould, is accused of driving her 2014 Honda on North Hoosac Road about 6:15 p.m. and striking LeClaire, who was walking her dog, before leaving the scene. A passing motorist found LeClaire unresponsive in the road about 6:30 p.m.

According to court records, around Feb. 10, Sally Gould filed an auto insurance claim, reporting damage to her windshield caused by a rock from a dump truck while she was driving on Route 7 in Vermont on Feb. 6.

On Feb. 16, Sally Gould presented another claim to Encompass, reporting her Honda had been damaged while parked at the Northern Berkshire branch of the YMCA in North Adams.

Around that same time, Williamstown police, who had been investigating the accident, received information from a neighbor that the Goulds' Honda appeared to have damage to its hood and front passenger side bumper.

Police had asked for the public's help in locating a vehicle they believed was involved in the crash, a Honda with heavy damage to the lower passenger-side bumper. Debris recovered from the accident scene led investigators to determine the vehicle involved in the collision was a Honda.

The Goulds, both of whom denied being involved in the accident, were arraigned in June after being indicted by a Berkshire County grand jury.

They have entered not guilty pleas to charges of misleading police and Sally Gould faces an additional charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.

Meanwhile, a March 7 hearing to argue whether the two cases should be tried together was canceled. As of Tuesday, no new date had been set.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.


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