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At first thought, you may say that no one is responsible; a tree falling is an act of God. However, in this case, the Connecticut legislature is involved, and the outcome may surprise you.

In 2007, Joseph Stavola and his wife, Jeanne Serocke-Stavola, were on a road trip with their two young sons. Their nine and seven-year old sons were riding in the backseat of their Volvo. They were on the Merritt Parkway in Westport, Connecticut when a 70-foot tree fell on the car killing Mr. and Mrs. Stavola. Miraculously, their sons survived the horror.

Now, more than ten years later, the state of Connecticut has agreed to pay the Stavola estate $6.25 million. But – the settlement requires the approval of the state House and Senate. If the state government does not take any action, the settlement will be automatically approved in thirty days.

Once approved, the settlement will be filed and the money will be paid out of taxpayers’ dollars. A trial is scheduled for this week if the settlement is rejected. The state’s prosecuting attorney maintains that sovereign immunity is granted against most lawsuits.

The lawsuit has been through some ups and downs in the past few years, but as late as 2015, a court ordered that the action be allowed to continue. Expert witnesses are claiming that the state failed to do the proper maintenance and proper inspection on its roads and rights-of-way.

If the settlement goes forward without objection by the Connecticut legislature, the state would be released from any future claims by the deceased couple’s estate and family members.

Both sides have agreed that the judgement is a compromise and does not constitute an admission of liability by the state of Connecticut.

What do you think?

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