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New Times / News

The following article was posted on July 30th, 2014, in the New Times - Volume 29, Issue 1 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 29, Issue 1

A suit against Pismo's Cliffs Resort moves to jury trial

BY RHYS HEYDEN

Almost three years after Los Osos resident Tricia Rittger was struck and killed by a car outside the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, her family will have their day in court.

Although Rittger’s husband and daughter have already reached a confidential settlement with the driver of the vehicle and a $1.5 million settlement paid out by the city of Pismo Beach’s insurer, they’re still seeking a resolution with the Cliffs and its parent company, King Ventures.

Ryan Harris, the Rittger family’s primary attorney, filed the suit against the Cliffs for allegedly violating a 1983 conditional use permit.

That permit explicitly forbids public and guest use of the east lot on the opposite side of Shell Beach Road from the Cliffs. Walking to the Cliffs from the east lot necessitates crossing Shell Beach Road—on which cars travel at 40 mph—at a juncture that lacks a crosswalk, signing, or proper lighting—which is how Rittger was killed on Nov. 19, 2011.

“We feel we have a strong case because the Cliffs ignored these safety concerns for a long time,” Harris told New Times. “We look forward to having a fair and impartial jury.”

Jury selection for the trial started on July 29, and Harris said the formal trial will likely begin on Aug. 1. He added that he expects the trial to last “three or four weeks.”

Representatives from the Cliffs and King Ventures—in addition to their attorney, Darren Epps—didn’t respond to requests for comment from New Times.

In a separate matter, Pismo’s insurer—the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority (JPIA)—also filed a lawsuit against the Cliffs and King Ventures on Nov. 18, 2013.

That suit seeks general damages, special damages, and attorney’s fees on top of a refund—with interest—of the $1.5 million settlement the JPIA paid out on Oct. 24.