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Family Sues State in Fatal 2007 Tree Crash in Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – The family of a Westchester County couple killed in 2007 by a fallen tree on the Merritt Parkway in Westport is suing the state of Connecticut for negligence and seeking at least $15 million in damages, The Hartford Courant reports .

Joseph Stavola, 46, and his wife, Jeanne Serocke-Stavola, 44, both of Pelham Manor, N.Y., were killed June 9, 2007, after a 70-foot tree fell onto their SUV as they drove south on the Merritt, according to The Courant. The couples’ then 7- and 9-year-old sons, who were in the backseat, survived with scrapes and bruises.

Glastonbury-based attorney David Hill, who is representing the estates and survivors of the couple, said the state Department of Transportation was negligent in not removing the tree, which was decayed. He also called inspection road procedures inadequate, saying the state knew or should have known the tree was a hazard.

The Connecticut attorney general's office denies any negligence by DOT and said the state should not be liable for damages, The Courant reports.

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