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Hey, Bill! Anchor slammed with injury suit

New York Daily News, July 21, 2004

By Tracy Connor

Popular WABC/Ch. 7 news anchor Bill Ritter - who gets those "Hey, Bill" shoutouts from New Yorkers in a commercial for "Eyewitness News" - is being sued by a bicycle messenger over a traffic accident.

Louis Baguidy said he was badly hurt two years ago when his mountain bike slammed into a livery cab door Ritter had just opened in Manhattan.

"He suffered neck, back and face injuries," said Baguidy's lawyer, Daniel Gilberg, who declined to comment further because the case is headed to trial.

Baguidy also named WABC in the suit, saying Ritter told him he was "in the middle of an assignment" when the collision happened.

The TV station disputed that, saying Ritter was on his way to the office, and asked the court to dismiss the complaint against WABC.

But despite Ritter's sworn testimony that he had not yet started his workday, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Yvonne Lewis ruled against the station.

In a slightly surreal twist, the decision seemed to come down to a dispute over whether Ritter was wearing on-air makeup when he and Baguidy collided.

The messenger insists he saw cosmetics on Ritter's face and was surprised, because he was "used to seeing female or women using makeup," the ruling quoted him as saying.

Ritter, who is one of the better-liked newsmen at WABC, testified at a pretrial deposition that while he sometimes wears makeup on assignment, he did not have it on the day of the crash.

In the end, Lewis found that neither Ritter nor WABC had disproved the claim the anchorman was on assignment, and she let the suit stand.

"We disagree with this decision and we plan to appeal immediately," WABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said.

Ritter is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. His lawyer did not return phone calls.


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