Judge orders RFTA to pay Aspen woman $48
A Pitkin County judge has ordered the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to pay $48 to a woman whose parked vehicle was struck and damaged by a public bus.
The award was substantially less — more than $7,400 less, actually — than the amount plaintiff Trishka Lemos sought from RFTA. The two went to small-claims trial April 22 over Lemos’ lawsuit, which aimed to collect nearly $7,500 from RFTA. A majority of that claim, $6,465, was for what Lemos considered lost profits, because she said she planned to buy her leased vehicle and flip it for a profit. Lemos said the buy-out price was $17,748, and its top Kelley Blue Book value was $24,214. Lemos said her brother had planned to pay the buyout and sell the car on her behalf, giving her the difference.
RFTA already paid $9,952 to the lessor, but the Subaru’s value depreciated because of the accident.
But Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely, in her written order issued Wednesday, said, “There was no commitment by Lemos’ brother that he would pay her $24,214 and no guarantee that he would find a buyer for any specific price, no mention of what his cut would be for the effort, and no mention of the cost of the loan for the buy-out. This claim for lost profits is speculative.”
Lemos, a single mother who lives at Burlingame, which is where the bus struck her car during the late-night hours of Nov. 17, also had sued RFTA for other damages, including funds for taxi service to travel to Denver to get another leased car and lost time at work. She contended those expenses totalled more than $1,000.
The judge, however, ruled that those expenses would have incurred “with or without the accident.”
But the judge did award $48 for the cab fare she paid the day she didn’t use her rental car, which RFTA provided when the Subaru was getting fixed. Lemos needed to use a taxi to take care of personal affairs when it was snowing; her rental didn’t have snow tires.
Aspen attorney Paul Taddune represented RFTA in the trial.
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