Angela Skudin, whose decorated FDNY husband Casey was killed last month when a 2,000-pound tree struck the family car while it was entering a vacation estate in North Carolina last month, has filed a wrongful-death suit against the tourist spot, saying it was negligent in failing to maintain the tree.
The Skudins and their two sons, Ben, 19, and C.J., 10, were all in the car on a vacation on Father’s Day to the Biltmore Estate when the tree slammed into their vehicle as they entered the grounds, Skudin, 45, was killed instantly and C.J. Skudin suffered neck injuries.
The suit was filed last week in Buncombe County, N.C., saying Biltmore exhibited gross negligence because it “knowingly and intentionally kept a massive rotted tree on its property next to the main road.” It said also that the Biltmore knew the tree would cause great harm when it fell.
The suit, filed by attorney Kyle Findley of the Houston-based law firm Arnold & Itkin, seeks a jury trial and both compensatory and punitive damages and lawyers’ fees. Findley did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday.
In a statement, LeeAnn Donnelly, a spokeswoman for Biltmore said that the fatal injuries to Casey Skudin were the result of a “tragic accident” and that the company “adamantly denies allegations of negligent and intentional conduct.”
“A portion of the tree fell during a period of high winds and struck the guest’s vehicle as they entered the estate. There have been multiple eyewitness accounts of a short duration high wind evens around that time.”
“There are no words to express our deep sorrow for the Skudin family’s unimaginable loss and we offer them our deepest sympathy,” the statement added.
“We are preparing our answer to this lawsuit and will not provide further details while in litigation,” the statement said.
Skudin was a veteran firefighter assigned to Ladder 137 in the Rockaway section of Queens and lived in Long Beach. He was a member of the family well-known in Long Beach for its surf shops, lessons and Surf for All, a non-profit that teaches surfing to children with challenges.