Pismo Beach to pay $1.5 million to settle lawsuit over woman's death

Tricia Rittger
Tricia Rittger

Pismo Beach has agreed to pay $1.5 million to the family of a Los Osos woman who was hit and killed by a car while crossing Shell Beach Road in 2011.

The woman, Tricia Rittger, was hit by a car on Nov. 19, 2011, as she crossed the road from a private parking lot to The Cliffs Resort. Rittger’s family sued the city, claiming the city maintained a dangerous condition by failing to provide a midblock intersection and other traffic control measures at the site of the accident.

Rittger was the national sales manager at KSBY, where she worked for 13 years.

On that Saturday night, she had been on her way to meet friends before attending a movie.

Pismo Beach police said she parked her car in a lot across from The Cliffs about 6:50 p.m. and was walking west across the street when an older-model Ford SUV, heading south, struck her. Rittger was wearing dark clothing, and the driver of the SUV, whose name was not released, told police he did not see her.

A witness told police that Rittger looked north, saw the vehicle heading her way and increased her speed in an effort to make it across the street.

While the city denies the lawsuit’s allegations that the road was unsafe, it agreed to pay $750,000 each to Rittger’s husband, Aaron Rittger, and her daughter, Erin Rittger, who was 4 at the time, in order to settle the suit. The city made the settlement offer to avoid the uncertainty of litigation and the legal fees that would be incurred during a trial.

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

Mayor Shelly Higginbotham expressed the city’s condolences to the Rittger family.