By Kristina Pritchett

Family members of a Dana Point man that was killed last year have filed charges against a Laguna Beach developer for wrongful death, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by Dana Point Times and confirmed by the family’s lawyer.

According to a complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court on Dec. 8, 2016, Renee Raith, Eric Raith, Stephanie Hudock, Greg Raith and Mededith Arakelyan allege Gallo Corporation and an unnamed driver of wrongful death.

The Raith’s attorney confirmed the driver was Keith Gallo of Gallo Corporation.

“Gallo Corporation has strong defenses and believes it will be exonerated,” said Edward Susolik, attorney for Gallo Corporation.

On April 9, 2016, Thomas Raith, 69 of Dana Point, was driving on Golden Lantern near Selva Road and was struck by another driver and died at the scene.

According to the complaint, Gallo Corporation owned, operated, controlled, repaired and entrusted the vehicle to a driver, Gallo, who driver was using the vehicle with the consent and permission of the Corporation.

“I think it’s a complete travesty my clients went a year without hearing anything,” said Gregory G. Rizio, attorney for the family.

The family is asking for economic losses including the loss of financial support Raith would have contributed to the family, the loss of gifts and benefits, funeral and burial expenses and the reasonable value of household services Raith would have provided. They are also requesting a jury trial.

“The family is extremely touched by the community’s outpour of love, and how much the community has rallied around them,” Rizio said.

Rizio said a court date has not been set yet, but could be a year from when the complaint was filed.

This story was updated at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12.

This is a developing story, more information will be published when made available.

About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (6)

  • DP Times, you should be ashamed. For one year – 365 days – your readers have been asking you to utilize the resources available to journalists/reporters and find out what was going on with this case. All you ever provided was the canned response from the OCSD and from the DAs office. You never questioned the official line. In fact, it was one of your readers who “broke” this story for you. She was persistent in sending emails to the Dana Point city council, requesting that they look into this. Somehow, the emails were not seen by the Council when they were sent, but your reader sent a copy of the discussion thread on your initial story – a discussion that we have been having for an entire year – directly to Mayor Debra Lewis. Mayor Lewis not only read the entire discussion; she responded immediately by promising to look into it. Mayor Lewis, actually DID look into it, the same day. She found the driver’s name, and discovered that a civil suit had been filed. And she gave us that information in a comment posted to the original discussion thread on your web site..
    So, now that Ms. Lewis has given you a little help, how about checking into Mr. Gallo’s arrest in 2007, in Murrieta, CA, and find how and why the Riverside DA released him despite another jurisdiction requesting that he be held for a day so they could come and get him. Find out why, when he failed to appear in court and a bench warrant was issued, he was not arrested. Find out why the first deputies on the scene of the crash put paper over the SUV’s license plates, BEFORE attending to Mr. Raith, and took Mr. Gallo from the scene within minutes. Find out why the OCSD had refused to identify the driver by claiming the toxicology tests were still pending (7 months later). Find out why the DA has not charged Mr. Gallo with a crime.

    This is more than a personal, horrible tragedy for the family of Mr. Raith. When public officials tip the scales of justice in favor of select people, while aggressively prosecuting those who are less powerful, all of us are affected. I sincerely hope that is not the case.

    • So why did the cover the licence plate with paper? They never do that at other accidents?

    • I should clarify that even though there is a record of a Keith Gallo being arrested and never prosecuted in Riverside County in 2007, I have not been able to confirm that it is, in fact, the same Keith Gallo. But I’m working on it. If it’s not our red-light, cell phone talking Gallo I will let you know. If it is . . .

  • Thank you Douglas for your incisive comments.
    I will be speaking to the City council this coming Tuesday night April 18 about this incident and the city’s “response” to it. I would urge the people who have followed this incident to be there and speak as well. My contact info is stevestewart1@cox.net if you would like to coordinate on what to say. I hope there will be other people from our community who are willing to stand up and demand better from our city management and police chief going forward. For the record, Dana Point pays more money per capita ($319 per resident) than any other city in Orange County for Sheriff’s police services. Are we getting what we pay for?

  • Kudos to our Mayor for being responsive to the citizenry of the City! What this news article doesn’t tell you is that developer Keith Gallo is not going to be prosecuted because presumably he was having a personal medical emergency. (That explains why he was speeding down Golden Lantern, using his cell phone, and going through red lights, until he T-boned a car much smaller than his Escalade and murdered the driver.) Baloney. This case should be re-opened and re-investigated by a neutral police team. It just smells so bad. And the DP Times and the City hitherto has contributed to and enhanced a climate–at the least anyway– that allowed this to happen. Keith Gallo was concerned about vermin left behind by homeless people, according to a letter he wrote to the Laguna Beach newspaper. Look at what HE did in Dana Point. I am stunned.

  • A medical emergency?? He was so medically impaired that he ran the red light at Stonehill and was able to continue navigating traffic and talk on his phone until the next red light? The OCSD told the DPTimes that the delay was because they were waiting for the results of “toxicology tests”. About the only medical impairments that occur while driving that allows the vehicle to continue moving for that distance would be a mild heart attack, a mild stroke, or hyperglycemia, which is high blood sugar that ONLY occurs if a person requires insulin to keep the blood sugar normal. People with any of those conditions are usually very sick, but they KNOW that they are sick and they go to the hospital. There was no hospital in the direction he was going. Something like a seizure can cause the person to slump over the steering wheel, and their weight pushes on the gas pedal. But they are completely unconscious, even in petit mal seizures, and it would be impossible for the vehicle to drive itself for that distance . . . Wait a second . . . there ARE a few self driving vehicles out there . . . Naw, Gallo isn’t rich enough to have one yet.

    Any information from the recent City Council meeting?

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