Judge to rule on Aspen woman’s suit against RFTA
A Pitkin County judge presiding over a small-claims trial Wednesday between an Aspen woman and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority said she will offer a written judgment within the next week.
Trishka Lemos took RFTA to court over an incident Nov. 17, when a RFTA bus slammed into her leased 2011 Subaru Outback in the Burlingame neighborhood. Lemos, a yoga instructor and single mother of two children, lives at Burlingame and said she was asleep at the time of the 11 p.m. accident. Her car was legally parked on the side of the road, she said.
“The accident permanently reduced the value of my car,” Lemos told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely.
RFTA attorney Paul Taddune, however, said the public agency paid nearly $10,000 in damages to the lessor of the vehicle. Lemos said while she appreciated that, RFTA still owes her more than $1,000 for lost work time, travel arrangements such as taxi service and travel expenses to Denver to get another leased car.
She said Kelley Blue Book valued the Subaru — before the crash — at $24,214, and she had an option to buy it for $17,748. Had she purchased it, she said she planned to flip it for a profit, but the bus crash ruined that opportunity, she said.
“It’s the loss of profit that I’m suing for,” she said at trial, “in addition to the expenses I incurred as a result of the accident.”
Taddune countered that RFTA cannot pay Lemos for speculated damages. He also noted that Lemos no longer leases the Subaru.
“You are actually making a claim for a diminished vehicle that you do not own at this point,” he said, adding that “RFTA is a public entity that can’t take on damages that are speculated.”
The judge also noted that “just because there is a Blue Book value doesn’t mean that you’re going to get that amount for it.”
For Lemos, she said she didn’t want to sue RFTA, but the accident put her in a position to litigate.
“If this had not happened, I would have bought this car and sold it,” she said.
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After executing an operating agreement with Union Pacific railroad for the Tennessee Pass line through Eagle County, Colorado Midland & Pacific is now in the public outreach phase of its planning process.