Lawmakers to weigh $2.2M payment to Levy County man maimed in FDOT motorcycle crash
Image via GoFundMe.

Mark LaGatta GoFundMe
He lost his leg and is ‘unable to return to his career as a maintenance engineer,’ the bill says.

State lawmakers next year will decide whether to clear $2.2 million in outstanding settlement money to a Levy County man permanently injured in a motorcycle crash with Florida Department of Transportation machinery.

The accident resulted in the man, Mark LaGatta, having his leg amputated and left him with persistent pain and anguish, according to a measure (SB 12) Spring Hills Sen. Blaise Ingoglia filed this month.

There is no question about who was at fault, but state financial safeguards require legislative action for full payment.

SB 12 is classified as a claims bill or “relief act.” It is intended to compensate a person or entity for injury or loss caused by the negligence or error of a public officer or agency.

Claims bills arise when appropriate damages exceed what is allowable under Florida’s sovereign immunity statute, which protects government agencies from costly lawsuits. Under that law, the state is only able to pay $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident.

LaGatta to date has received just $120,000 of a $2.32 million settlement awarded to him after he sued the state and won in February.

The case stemmed from a July 27, 2020, incident on State Road 24 in Cedar Key. LaGatta was traveling eastward on his motorcycle with his daughter, Faith, sitting behind him as a passenger.

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) personnel had established a work zone on the road that day while they repaired damage from a sinkhole. They marked a closed westbound traffic lane with cones, leaving only the eastbound lane open for traffic.

Flaggers directed the flow of traffic, and one signaled for LaGatta to proceed through the work zone on the eastbound lane. As he motored through, an FDOT employee operating a tractor with a box blade — a three-point attachment used to scrape, smooth and contour land — backed up directly in front of him and caused a collision.

LaGatta and his daughter both suffered severe injuries, though the father had it far worse. He was placed in an induced coma, hospitalized for several weeks, underwent a tracheotomy and seven surgeries, including the amputation of his left leg.

According to a GoFundMe page launched shortly after the accident, Faith LaGatta was hospitalized as well — a detail not included in Ingoglia’s bill — with a broken leg that also required surgery.

Today, LaGatta remains “medically unable to return to his career as a maintenance engineer,” the bill says, adding that the wounds he sustained caused him “pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish (and) lost capacity for the enjoyment of life.”

He has also endured financial hardship from the costs of medical and nursing care, treatment, lost earnings and lost future earning capacity, the bill says.

On Feb. 28, 2023, Judge Craig DeThomasis of the 8th Judicial Circuit rendered a final judgment for LaGatta, his daughter and wife, Margo, against FDOT following a civil jury trial. DeThomas awarded the LaGattas $2.32 million in damage, of which FDOT has since paid $120,000.

Upon approval of the measure next year, the Legislature would direct Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis to pay LaGatta the remaining $2.2 million through FDOT. The money would come from the state General Revenue Fund.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn