Golf cart accident case leads to removal

By Audrey Holsclaw | Sep 8, 2008

WHEELING -- A California company wants a case involving a golf cart accident in Ohio moved to federal court.

Yamaha Motor Corporation USA has filed a notice of removal to the because of the diversity of citizenship and the amount in question.

Allan Pettit of Wheeling was trying to relax at Bec Wood Hills Golf Course in Rayland, Ohio, on July 30, 2006. He was driving a Yamaha Motor Corporation-Lake Erie Golf Cars golf cart with a battery produced by Douglas Battery Manufacturing Company and resold by US Battery Manufacturing Augusta. The battery exploded.

Bec Wood Hills Golf Course of Rayland, Ohio; Lake Erie Golf Cars, Inc., of Cleveland, Ohio; Yamaha Motor Corporation USA Inc. of Sacramento, Calif.; and Douglas Battery Manufacturing Company and US Battery Manufacturing Augusta Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C., were named as defendants in a lawsuit after a battery explosion left a Wheeling man badly injured.

In the suit, filed by Theodore Tsoras and Ronald Zavolta of the Wheeling firm of Zavolta Law Offices, Pettit alleged that Douglas Battery Manufacturing Company, US Battery Manufacturing Augusta, Yamaha Motor Corporation, and Lake Erie Golf Cars are strictly liable for and breached their warranties because of the defective nature of the battery and negligent for failing to detect the defect that caused the explosion.

Pettit accused the companies of being grossly negligent and recklessly conducting themselves because of the explosion. He also names Bec Wood Hills Golf Course and Lake Erie Golf Cars as owing a duty to potential customers and users of the cart, as the battery should have been "in a safe condition" for use.

Filed on July 30, the suit states that the accident caused permanent injuries to Pettit's head, back, extremities, body chemistry, memory, psyche, legs, abdomen, lungs, pancreas, spleen, liver, blood, muscle tissues. He was seeking a trial by jury to award punitive damages as well as compensatory damages for past and future loss of earnings, medical expenses, and loss of the capacity to care for himself and enjoy a normal life.

In its Answer, Affirmative Defenses, and Cross Claim filed by Diane Blackburn of the Pittsburgh firm of the Law Offices of Terry L.M. Bashline, Bec Wood Hills Golf Course essentially claims ignorance of everything, stating that it had no way of knowing the battery was defective and that it had no hand in the manufacturing of the defective battery. Filed on September 2, 2008, it also claims that Pettit may have inadvertently failed to operate the golf cart properly.

The notice of removal was filed on Aug. 27 by David Thomas, Philip Combs, and Christopher Arnold of the Charleston firm of Allen Guthrie McHugh & Thomas. Thomas, Combs, and Arnold believe that because Pettit is seeking damages for past and future pain, suffering, loss of income, medical expenses, and enjoyment of life, the amount in question before interest and costs will exceed the jurisdictional limit of $75,000.

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