A 5th District Court of Appeals court has ruled that an automobile insurer must cover damages of a policyholder who was driving a modified golf cart in The Villages at the time of an accident.
“The facts of this case are largely undisputed. On February 28, 2008, while driving a modified golf cart on a public roadway, (Ralph) Snyder sideswiped a car and then crashed into a lawfully stopped golf cart operated by John Angelotta (“Angelotta”). The collision occurred within The Villages, a retirement community in which many residents utilize golf carts as a means of transportation,” Judge Kerry I. Evander wrote in the opinion handed down Friday.
The case started in February 2008, when Security National Insurance policyholder Ralph Snyder, while driving the modified golf cart on a public road in The Villages, sideswiped a car and then crashed into a stopped golf cart driven by John Angelotta, a retired judge from Ohio.
Angelotta filed a lawsuit against Snyder.
Angelotta, a Villager, died in 2012 in an assisted-living facility, while the appeal was in process.
He had won a $70,515 judgment against Snyder, which ultimately led to the dispute with the insurer.
The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed Sumter County Circuit Judge Michelle T. Morley’s ruling that was in favor of Security National Insurance Co.
The appeals court found that the souped-up golf cart, unlike typical golf carts, met the legal definition of a “low-speed vehicle” and that insurance coverage applied.
“It was designed for use on Florida’s highways and was required by federal and state law to have numerous items of safety equipment to help insure its safe operation on public roads,” the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel said.
Angelotta’s son Thomas represented his father’s estate in the matter.
Judge Angelotta presided over many prominent trials during more than 38 years at Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, according to an obituary which appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this past year.