Queens family sues over tragic Sandy tree death

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A Flushing family filed suit against the city this week after their 29-year-old son was killed by a falling tree during Hurricane Sandy last year.

St. John’s University graduate Anthony Laino was crushed by a tree Oct. 29 while lying on a couch on the second floor of his 166th Street home, and Laino’s mother Carol wants to ensure the tragedy does not happen to anyone else, a lawyer for the family said.

“She wants to spare every other mother the risk of having to go through what she went through, which was unspeakable and unbearable pain,” said Manhattan attorney Rosemarie Arnold.

The suit was filed in Queens Civil Court and alleges the city was negligent in its duties to maintain the mammoth tree in front of the house.

A spokeswoman from the city Law Department issued a statement calling the incident a tragedy.

“We recognize that the incident involves a loss of life, which is tragic,” she said.

The tree was planted on a strip of grass between the sidewalk and 166th Street and had been recently pruned before toppling over during the winds brought by Sandy, the family and neighbors said at the time.

The suit alleges the Laino family had filed complaints with the city Parks Department, indicating the tree was hazardous and in danger of falling over, and that Parks should have acted on those complaints and had the tree removed.

In the wake of the accident, neighbors were shocked to learn of Laino’s death.

“He was a wonderful, wonderful young man. There’s no explanation for something like this,” Heather Valente told TimesLedger Newspapers at the time.

Her daughter Danielle was Laino’s longtime girlfriend.

The suit was filed more than a week after another Flushing tree fell on a 30-year-old pregnant woman sitting on a bench in Kissena Park.

“Last week there was a person who was killed around the corner. Everytime something like that happens, it hurts Carol even more,” Arnold said. “It tortures her. It reminds her of what happened to her son, and it reminds her that the city is neglecting the trees. They are not heeding the warnings.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 4:20 am, August 15, 2013
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Reader feedback

maria from queens says:
What a tragedy. This could have been prevented. Im sorry for your loss.
Aug. 16, 2013, 4:55 am

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