Death of Camp Counselor Leads to Lawsuit
The parents of a 21-year old camp counselor killed by a falling tree on July 3, 2013, filed suit against Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), as well as Denise Britton, an arborist charged with inspecting trees at the camp, claiming negligence. According to court documents, the tree was in a "zone of grave danger" and that inspectors failed to discover the tree had become "structurally weak, unable to stand and at severe risk of breaking."
Falling Tree Kills One and Inures Four
Annais Rittenberg, who was in her second year as a counselor at Camp Tawonga in the Sierra foothills, was seated on a bench outside a dining hall where several hundred children were eating breakfast with four other counselors. Witnesses reported a loud creak before an 80-foot oak tree fell, crushing Rittenberg to death and injuring four other women. Rittenberg was to begin her senior year at UC Santa Cruz in the fall.
Within 15-Feet of Power Lines
Because the tree was within 15-feet of power lines owned by PG&E, Mark and Penelope Rittenberg, the parents of the woman killed, say that the contractors hired by the company were required to manage vegetation and inspect the tree regularly. They also claim that Britton was also guilty of negligence, as she performed tree inspections for Camp Tawonga. The tree overlooked a gathering area at the camp, and court documents indicate that those responsible should have taken greater care to insure its safety.
"Tree Ready to Fall At Any Time"
An inspector hired by R. Lewis Van Blois, an attorney representing the Rittenbergs, reported that the tree was "ready to fall at any time." The suit did not say what caused the tree to fall, but that PG&E, along with the arborist, had a responsibility to notify the proper authorities of possible dangers that existed should the tree collapse. PG&E had no comment on the suit other than to express their condolences to the family and friends of those involved. The tree-inspection companies were unavailable for comment.
When someone's negligence is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a liability claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an accident here injuries may have been caused or worsened by someone's negligence.