Texting information permitted in Cliff’s Resort trial

August 2, 2014
Tricia Rittger

Tricia Rittger

Lawyers for the family of a woman who was struck by a vehicle and killed while crossing Shell Beach Road unsuccessfully attempted to bar defendants from showing the victims cell phone information to the jury at the trial that started Thursday.

On Nov. 19, 2011, Tracia Rittger was crossing westbound on Shell Beach Road near the Cliff’s Resort when she was struck by a car and killed.

In the area where the accident occurred, there are three parking lots on the west side of Shell Beach Road. The lots are primarily used by people headed to the beach or local restaurants. None have crosswalks.

Tricia Rittger’s husband Aaron Rittger filed the lawsuit against the city of Pismo Beach and the Cliffs Resort claiming her death could have been prevented if a crosswalk and proper signage were in place. Even though city officials said they did not believe the city was liable for the death, the city settled for $1.5 million.

During opening statements, an attorney for the Rittger family said that the hotel’s management failed to restrict the lot to employees as require by a 1984 permit. Because of that, plaintiff’s attorney said guests were forced to park across the street.

An attorney for the Cliff’s Resort said that Tricia Rittger was texting on her phone and not paying attention as she crossed the road.

Aaron Rittger is seeking reimbursement of funeral costs, loss of his wife’s income, court costs and general damages. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.


25 Comments

  1. J4flat_tire says:

    Thirty five likes Zero Dislikes. Amazing that just because I didnt include the word government or the word regulation they didn’t even get it. Watch how many dislikes this post gets. Don’t you liberals feel really ignorant now? No they don’t. I feel like we live on a sheep farm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. whatdouno says:

    So let me get this straight; we have a person behind the wheel of a car who is supposed to be watching where they are going, we have a person crossing a street who is supposed to look both ways before crossing and yet a resort and the City the resort is in are responsible for this accident?
    Who cares if the lot was for employees only, the fact of the matter remains the responsibility is on both the driver and the pedestrian to use caution. I don’t recall any employees getting run over and killed or even hit, and theoretically they are the ones crossing on a regular basis. Do they have more of a responsibility to cross with care or do drivers just know to watch for them.
    Just a couple more opportunists looking to make a buck off a tragic accident. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 0

  3. J4flat_tire says:

    I remember when kids drank water out of a hose and rode bicycles without a helmet. If they weren’t as quick as some of their classmates they were just called slow but were still allowed to participate and learn in school without being pumped full of Ritalin or some other type of anti psychotic drug. Most of them survived even if they had to use a rotary dial telephone to communicate with their friends as opposed to constant texting as they do now. There is such a thing as personal responsibility.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 0

    • whatisup says:

      The Cliff’s had a personal responsibility to follow their permit allowing the parking lot across Highway 1 to be used for employees only. The City had a personal responsibility to enforce their permit issued to the Cliff’s. I suspect that some liability will be found because of these failures in personal responsibility. Otherwise, the permit process is meaningless.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

      • standup says:

        Is there some kind of magic that keeps a driver from hitting an employee versus a customer pedestrian? If the crossing was so hazardous why wouldn’t employees be a concern to the City?
        The fact of the matter is it was an accident most likely both the driver and victim weren’t paying attention, but I seriously do not see how the cliffs is at fault when hundreds of crossings are made on a regular basis. What happened with the driver and their liability and insurance?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

        • whatisup says:

          Undoubtedly if the driver had insurance either the insurance company settled or the driver was also sued. Based on the Trib reporting the salary of the women killed was $78,000 a year and she was only 39 with husband and kids, a $1.5 million settlement from the City was cheap. I assume there is belief by all parties that the deceased women has some liability (what most are calling personal responsibility). However, a jury can assign and probably will assign partial responsibility also to the Cliff’s for violating their permit, especially if employees parked in the main lot which forced patrons to park across Highway 1 because the main lot was full.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

          • standup says:

            Employees do not park in any of the lots on the west side of hwy 1, there is another lot down the street on the east side for employees. Security monitors for employee parking. Free valet parking is available for guest parking, and guest overflow goes to the further lot when necessary.
            It is impossible to make guest use the valet, and to save the tip, they choose the offsite parking. Again not the cliffs resort fault.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

            • whatisup says:

              You have addressed everything but what the story said the fact was. The Cliff’s agreed to limit the parking in that lot across the street to employees by a permit issued by the City. This is certainly a factual item a jury will be asked to look at. Again, what good is the permit process if you don’t have an obligation to follow the permit you agreed to? Clearly, if what you are saying is true, the Cliff’s specifically was using the lot across the street for patrons in direct violation of their permit.

              Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. whatisup says:

    The fact the City settled for $1.5 million says something. According to the story, the permit for the parking lot across the road from the Cliff’s is supposed to be restricted to employees (presumably to allow patrons to park in the Cliff’s parking lot instead of employees).
    Also, there was no mention of witnesses, so how is any texting pinned down to the exact time of the accident? All it says is the Cliff’s wants to show the cell phone information to the jury. I would think, unless you could pin down the texting to the exact moment of the accident, it would not prove much.
    There is merit to the argument of personal responsibility as to why did this person get hit (look both ways, etc.), but if the parking lot was supposed to be restricted to employee use by City permit, and this was not followed by the Cliff’s and enforced by the City, then it seems to me there is some liability.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 33

    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      The fact that the city settled says nothing. A LOT of cities and business will settle even frivolous lawsuits, (i.e. payout) if it looks like it will cost anything close to settling or more than that that, to defend in court.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

      • kayaknut says:

        I think the fact the city settled as less to do with the cost to defend lawsuit and more to do with the fact the city looks at the payout as not being their money, perhaps the insurance carrier paid it and would just raise the rates to the city and again those in charge don’t see it as their money and when money becomes short they will cry “we have to cut services unless you let us raise your taxes, fees or such”.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

        • BeenThereDoneThat says:

          Another example of cities doing this is plea bargaining with criminals. They do that for the same reason. Costs.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

          • kayaknut says:

            It is a shame we have moved to state that does what costs less than what is right, but when you spend the majority of your budget on salaries, benefits, and pensions and don’t want to change that there is little choice.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      • whatisup says:

        They don’t settle frivolous lawsuits for $1.5 million. The city issued a permit and failed to enforce it. Without liability on the City’s part to enforce permits it issues, the permit process would be meaningless.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    • October says:

      There were witnesses. She was there with a group of friends.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  5. NorthCountyGuy says:

    This just another stupid deep-pockets lawsuit by a greedy, ambulance-chasing, swimming pool, whiplash tort lawyer.

    Texting while walking is just as irresponsible an dangerous as texting while driving.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 67 Thumb down 6

    • whatisup says:

      The Trib is now reporting that a witness has testified the woman killed was not texting when she crossed the street. There is undoubtedly many facts about this case that are not known publically yet, but the fact the City settled for $1.5 million indicates that some facts are negative for the City (and probably the Cliff’s).

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. obispan says:

    So if I’m so lucky as to find a groovy place to park across the road from the hotel or beach and get killed crossing aforementioned road everybody connected to me gets to sue the s**t out of the city and get $1.5 million? Sounds like Pismo needs to BAN ALL PUBLIC PARKING.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 40 Thumb down 9

  7. Ben Daho says:

    In 1984 something happened so lets make it relevant. Geezus christ.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 10

  8. Pelican1 says:

    WHY would the attorneys for the victim try and keep the cell records out of the trial? do they have something to hide…perhaps the truth?
    This was a tragic accident that indeed may have been prevented only time will tell as the evidence is presented.
    Just how much does this family want? They have already collected $1.5 million from the city.
    Enough already!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 69 Thumb down 4

    • Mr. Holly says:

      Whatever happened to stop, look and listen? Obviously this didn’t happen. Sad that she perished but I don’t think the blame lies elsewhere.
      This is just another case of an ambulance chasing attorney going after deep pockets. How the legal system condones this is beyond me except that all judges were practicing attorneys prior to sitting on the bench. And when it come to re-election time guess who their largest contributors are?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 70 Thumb down 4

    • obispan says:

      Not enough. And Pismo didn’t pay $1.5 million, we all did. A hidden cost of “government” buried in insurance costs. If Pismo had to pay $1.5 million out of it’s budget they might have fought this.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 39 Thumb down 6

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