Family Seeks Settlement for Man Killed by Tree After James Taylor Concert

A dead tree fell on Lester Holtzblatt as he returned to his car after concert at venue in Lenox and Stockbridge, Mass.

The family of a Massachusetts man who died after a dead tree fell on him as he returned to his car after a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood is seeking $800,000 from two towns.

A lawyer for the family of Lester Holtzblatt, 61, of Sudbury, said in a letter to Lenox and Stockbridge that town officials "knew, or reasonably should have known that the long-dead tree presented an imminent safety hazard."

Attorney Bradley Henry is seeking a settlement to avoid a lawsuit, The Berkshire Eagle reported Tuesday.

The settlement would cover pain and suffering, negligent infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.

The tree that fell on Holtzblatt on July 4, 2012, was located along a road in both towns.

The towns "by their own formal and informal agreements, as well as custom and practice" shared responsibility for maintaining the road and the trees alongside it, Henry wrote.

The tree, even to the untrained, naked eye was obviously a danger, Henry wrote.

"Any reasonable tree warden or other representative would, and should have immediately recognized that this tree needed to be removed from the area in order to preserve public safety, particularly in an area that welcomes vast numbers of visitors during the summer months," Henry wrote.

Lenox police ruled the death an accident caused by "an act of God."

Officials in both communities deferred comment to their insurer, the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, the nonprofit insurance arm of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Executive Director Geoffrey Beckwith said he could not comment on a pending legal issue.

Holtzblatt, a senior principal systems engineer for the Mitre Corp, is survived by his wife, two children and two grandchildren.


Information from: The Berkshire Eagle

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