The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is being sued by the wife of a renowned New York City fireman after a tree on the property crashed on the family car and killed her husband.
According to the lawsuit submitted last week in Buncombe County, North Carolina, Angela Skudin claims that on June 17, while she and her husband, Casey Skudin, were celebrating Casey’s birthday at the estate with their two children, a rotting tree fell on their car, fatally breaking Casey’s neck and causing multiple spinal fractures in their 10-year-old son.
According to the lawsuit, Casey Skudin was a 16-year member of the New York City Fire Department and the proud owner of an FDNY Medal. The department described his passing as a “terrible tragedy and loss to his family and the FDNY” in a statement to CNN.
The Biltmore is charged in the case with knowing the tree was rotting dangerously but failing to remove it, choosing instead to attach cables to keep it standing.
The lawsuit states: “Defendants knowingly and intentionally maintained a massive, rotted tree on its property adjacent to a main road where Defendants knew it would cause great harm when it fell.” It continues: “Despite this knowledge, Defendants decided to install inadequate cables to try and merely keep the tree upright, instead of taking the appropriate measure of cutting the tree down and eliminating the potentially fatal risk.”
The Biltmore is charged with willful misconduct, and the family is requesting punitive damages over $25,000 for expenditures such as medical bills, mental anguish, and lost wages, according to the lawsuit.
The Biltmore issued a statement in which they “adamantly refute all charges of willful or purposeful conduct on the part of the Biltmore, as well as allegations of negligence,” but they declined to make any other comments while the case was still in court.
The statement went on to say that “a part of a tree fell during a period of severe winds and struck the guest’s vehicle as they entered the estate.” “A short-lived high wind event around that time has been reported by numerous eyewitnesses. There aren’t enough words to adequately explain how very saddened we are for the Skudin family’s heinous loss, and we extend our sincere sympathies to them.
George Vanderbilt constructed The Biltmore Estate in the late 1800s as a private residence. It was given national historic landmark status in 1963, and today it serves as a museum, tourist destination, winery, inn, and garden.
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