The home of Tony Laino, 30, at 47-36 166th Street in Flushing Queens. Mr. Laino was killed on October 29th at 7:00pm when a large tree fell into his home during hurricane Sandy. Police found the man pinned in his bedroom on the second floor. (Photo: Pearl Gabel for The Wall Street Journal)
Laino's parents and brother plan to sue the city for monetary damages to cover the funeral expenses and pain and suffering. They believe the city was negligent when it failed to properly maintain the tree outside their home. The family's attorney filed a filed a Noice Of Claim.
The family of a Queens man crushed to death by a tree during superstorm Sandy has filed a notice of their intent to sue the city claiming the tree was overgrown, improperly pruned and should never have been planted on the sidewalk according to the Wall Street Journal.
Tony Laino, a 30-year-old graduate student at St. John's University, was one of the first people to die during the storm when a large tree fell through the roof of his family's Flushing home on Oct. 29.
On Wednesday, Rosemarie Arnold, the attorney for Mr. Laino's family, filed a notice of claim, the first step in bringing a lawsuit against the city. It is believed that this is the first notice of claim against the city stemming from the storm, according to Ms. Arnold.
Forty-three city resident died during Sandy.
A city Law Department spokeswoman said attorneys will evaluate the claim.
"We recognize that this incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic," she said.
Tony Laino, 29, (l) of Flushing Queens. Neighbors and relatives said that his family had pleaded with the city to remove the tree that wound up killing him — but that officials told them it was healthy enough to stay. (Photo: gofundme/tonylaino)
Ms. Arnold said that over the years, at least nine families on the block, including Mr. Laino's, had called the city's 311 complaint line reporting that the tree—which swayed drastically in the wind—was dangerous and needed to be taken down. She said that on many occasions the city's reaction was to prune the tree. However, cutting the branches only made the nearly 100-foot-tall Eastern cottonwood tree more unstable, she claims.
Ms. Arnold said the tree should never have been planted on the sidewalk in front of the Laino family's home because the concrete curb blocked half of the fast-growing tree's roots. This was one of the reasons that the tree came down, the lawsuit claims.
Ms. Arnold said that unlike some of the other storm fatalities, Mr. Laino's death cannot be considered "an act of God" because that would require circumstances that were "unforeseen." In this case, she contends, the city had long ago been put on notice that the tree posed a danger to the neighborhood.
"There's so much wrong with this picture that it was basically an accident waiting to happen," Ms. Arnold said.
Tony Laino's brother Nicholas (r) being consoled in front of the family house where his brother was killed by a tree a day earlier. (Photo by Christina Santucci)
Family of Sandy Victim Plans Suit
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