Pismo Beach pays $1.5 million, litigants name more defendants

October 25, 2013
Tricia Rittger

Tricia Rittger

Pismo Beach has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a woman who was struck by a vehicle and killed while crossing Shell Beach Road.

In 2011, Tricia Rittger was walking across the street from a parking lot to the Cliffs Resort to meet friends. At the time, she was wearing dark clothing and texting on her cell phone, sources said.

In 2012, Tricia Rittger’s husband Aaron Rittger filed a lawsuit against the city of Pismo Beach and the Cliffs Resort claiming his wife’s death could have been prevented if a crosswalk and proper signage were in place. The complaint says that both the Cliffs and the city of Pismo Beach had ample warning that the crossing was dangerous.

A few days ago, during settlement negotiations with the city, Aaron Rittger’s attorneys filed  a motion to bring each individual owner of the Cliffs Resort personally into the lawsuit.

In a press release, the city denies liability and says it agreed to pay the settlement to avoid legal fees and the uncertainty of litigation.

“The city continues to maintain that factors other than the city’s ownership of the road were the cause of the accident,” Pismo Beach Manager James Lewis said. “Nonetheless, the city recognizes that litigation produces uncertain results and significant financial costs.”


Mr. Holly

Isn’t there some responsibility when you become an adult? Haven’t we all heard “stop, look and listen”? This is just a pure and simple case of a greedy ambulance chasing attorney suing everyone because he knows that their insurance companies will pay off in lieu of paying the costs of a legal defense. How can you blame anyone else when you WALK out in front of a car and you get hit. Obviously Ms. Rittger didn’t think it was unsafe or didn’t take the necessary precautions.

I have parked across from the Cliff several times and have crossed that street. And yes, there have been times that after stopping, looking and listening that I did have to wait for traffic to pass. If I had been struck by a car it would have been my fault.


I’m more and more amazed with every passing year at the stupidity exhibited by the City of Pismo Beach government. The Cliffs crossing has been a very hazardous situation for a long time now, and yet the city of PB just spent way more settling a suit that benefits one family than it would take to actually fix the problem and make it safer for everyone.

Jorge Estrada

Fix what? Build a bridge to cross the street, put in more stop lights, come on…….look bothways and then cross. Even with lights or cross walks you have to do the same but if someone runs a stop sign, kills and speeds off for fear of being deported then that would be the norm.


You know what stupidity is? It’s people who can’t figure out how to cross a road safely without flashing lights and painted lines.


Interesting fact: “The study results revealed that on two-lane roads, the presence of a marked crosswalk alone at an uncontrolled location was associated with no difference in pedestrian crash rate, compared to an unmarked crosswalk. Further, on multi-

lane roads with traffic volumes above about 12,000 vehicles per day, having a

marked crosswalk alone (without other substantial improvements) was

associated with a significantly higher pedestrian crash rate (after controlling for

other site factors) compared to an unmarked crosswalk (” http://safety.transportation.org/htmlguides/peds/assets/app11.pdf


Thanks for some interesting research. It doesn’t surprise me but I am glad to see someone has gone to the trouble of verifying what I suspected was the truth.


Aaron Rittger you are no better than a common thief.


“uncertainty of litigation” Hmmmm…then why have a city attorney in the first place? Why not put the janitor in the position of handing out large sums of money?


Because the janitor is likely the only one actually working there… if it hasn’t been farmed out to a private company already.

Jorge Estrada

Dressed in cammo while mindlessly crossing a busy street at night and getting killed has to be someone elses fault, right?

On the other hand, if you get killed on a well documented dangerous highway, why are those settlements not aggressively published. How much does our State pay in claims?

Undisclosed amounts paid to claimants should not exist when public funds make it possible.


You forgot “texting”

I always like to be staring at a 4-inch screen when crossing a street wearing black… at night. The city totally should financially responsible for this.


It’s a very sad situation for her surviving family & friends…but where’s the personal responsibility?

How many thousands of others have crossed the street at that location and weren’t hit by a car? Sounds like she was distracted and not very visible; how is that the driver’s fault or the city’s fault or the hotel’s fault?! I wish cities would stop automatically settling these expensive lawsuits.


“The complaint says that both the Cliffs and the city of Pismo Beach had ample warning that the crossing was dangerous.” Both the City and the Cliffs defense should have read: The victim had ample warning as well, regarding jaywalking, wearing dark clothing at night, and talking on a cell phone while crossing the street.

One’s personal accountability and responsibility does NOT reside in the hands of the citizenry, but rather within one’s self. This lawsuit is absurd.

Sarah Bellum

IMHO the concept of personal responsibility is most often invoked by those attempting to deflect responsibility for their own actions. What about the responsibility of the city engineers to mitigate the hazard of that particular crossing? Doubt me? Go ahead and enjoy a pleasant dinner with friends at the Cliffs. Then cross that street and judge for yourself whether a lighted crosswalk might be helpful.


You could say that about any road crossing not marked. In the absence of such markings one would expect to NOT to cross at night in dark clothing WHILE talking on a cell phone.

Were you not taught as a child to ALWAYS look both ways before crossing the street whether in a crosswalk or not?

the question is not whether a crosswalk would be “helpful”, the question is whether this lawsuit if frivolous and unduly directed at the city and the Cliffs’

Sarah Bellum

Actually, the question is whether Mrs. Rittger was responsible for her own demise by failing to wear bright clothing and exercise attention while crossing the street. The word “frivolous” does not appear in the original story, nor in the city’s response to the lawsuit, nor in Pasoparent’s comment, nor in my response to that comment. Your use of the word is a pathetic apology for our society’s wholesale slide into a pathological disregard for the wellbeing of others disguised as a respect for personal responsibility.


You are right, frivolous (of little or no weight, worth, or importance; not worthy of serious notice) is the term I used, because it best describes this ridiculous attempt to extort money from the city and from the Cliffs.


I’d feel perfectly comfortable enjoying a “pleasant dinner with friends at the Cliffs” then crossing that street. Of course I would pay attention to my surroundings and not talk or text while crossing. As a parent, I’ve repeatedly drilled into my kids’ heads that in a car-versus-pedestrian/bicyclist scenario, the car wins. Every time. So I NEVER assume that cars see me when I or my kids are in a crosswalk. EVER.

Simply put: how many other pedestrians were killed in that supposedly “hazardous” crossing before and after Ms. Rittger’s untimely death? Zero. Not one. Squeezing money from the taxpayers of Pismo, the business owners of the Cliffs and the driver of the car won’t accomplish anything.

Sarah Bellum

Supposedly hazardous?! Seriously, you need to get out more. Take your family if you haven’t got any friends. Even looking carefully both ways from that spot it’s hard to judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic at night.


I often agree with your comments but if you find difficulty in judging speed and distance of oncoming traffic at this location difficult (even at night) you may have some perception problems that most people accustomed to dealing with traffic don’t have.

I also consider this lawsuit frivolous and it is exactly this type of thing that results in high costs of insurance, high taxes and a generally overbearing regulatory system as the victims of the lawsuit go to extremes to avoid further exposure. No amount of money will bring Ms. Rittger back to life. It just strikes me as another greedy ambulance-chaser convincing the grieving family that a large settlement will somehow help beyond the relatively small direct expenses associated with her death. (I could be wrong and maybe their greed is more powerful than their grief.)


Listen Sara, no one likes talking Bad about the dead. The fact is her failure to cross the road in a way that a first grader would not have trouble with makes it a tragedy. For the person that hit her, the responders who had to scrape her mess off the road. The tax payers who are getting shafted at no fault of there own. Fire the city manager, the unknown lawyer is an ambulance chasing creep. And millionaire husband needs to put the money back into the town in his wife’s memory.


I agree Pasoparent5. In today’s society people assume that cars will stop for them no matter what. Just drive through San Luis Obispo’s downtown and watch how many people walk on red lights and jaywalk without any regard for the cars. People don’t belong in the streets, cars do. If you are going to cross the street, do so with some haste.

I feel for the family but as you said where is the personal responsibility to get out of the way of a moving car and not just assume they are going to stop for you.


If there had been a crosswalk, would the victim have worn bright colored clothes and not talked on her phone while crossing the street?


You couldn’t defend that for $1,500,000.00?