The family of the Flushing man tragically killed by a felled tree during Sandy plans to sue the city after they said they fought in vain for at least a decade to get the towering threat removed, legal sources said.
A notice of claim has been filed on behalf of Tony Laino, 29, who was pinned under a tremendous tree that ripped through his bedroom in the upper left portion of his two-story home at 47-34 166th Street on October 29.
Laino, considered the storm’s first New York City victim, was pronounced dead at approximately 7 p.m., police said.
“Tony Laino was unnecessarily killed by a tree that didn’t belong there,” said the family’s attorney, Rosemarie Arnold. “It shouldn’t have been planted there to begin with. It was overgrown, rotten and improperly pruned.”
Arnold said these fatal factors caused the tree to fall when it was confronted by predicted 80 miles per hour hurricane winds.
“The city knew about everything years before it happened,” she said.
The victim’s parents, Carol and Robert Laino, and one of his two brothers, Nicholas Laino, are gearing up to sue the city for emotional, mental distress and monetary damages, including funeral and burial expenses, according to the notice of claim obtained by The Queens Courier.
New York City and its Parks Department were “grossly negligent, wanton, reckless, purposeful and/or breached their duties,” which led to Laino’s “wrongful and untimely death,” the claim said.
Family and neighbors said the disaster could have been averted if the city listened to their numerous complaints made over a decade about the enormous tree looming over the Lainos’ home.
“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 years,” said Bobby Laino, Tony’s other brother, who lived apart from his family and who is not listed as a claimant.
According to Arnold, the Lainos’ house deed shows the tree was on city, not private, property.
The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s Law Department, which said officials would evaluate the new claim.
“We recognize that this incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” department spokesperson, Elizabeth Thomas, said in a statement.
The amount the family plans to sue for was not yet determined, Arnold said.
Laino was the youngest of three brothers and a worked as a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental, his friends said.
“[The family is] heartbroken,” Arnold said. “They’re beyond heartbroken.”
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