- Associated Press - Friday, August 12, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - The family of a Washington state man who was killed during an intense windstorm when a tree fell on his car has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the developers involved in the project where the tree was located.

Jamie Fay was driving home in Gig Harbor on Aug. 29, 2015 with his 3-year-old daughter when the tree struck his vehicle. His daughter was in the back seat and wasn’t harmed.

The suit filed Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court on the behalf of Fay’s widow, Jennifer Lee Morgan, claims the developers were negligent for failing to properly log the area and remove the tree, which had suffered from extensive root rot.

It also claims the tree was damaged by the use of heavy equipment clearing the land above its root system, in violation of Gig Harbor city codes.

Heather Jensen, a lawyer representing the developers, told The Associated Press they had not yet seen the complaint and had no immediate comment.

The tree was on property being developed next to Borgen Boulevard is known as the Heron’s Key development, which is owned by Heron’s Key Corporation. Its parent company Emerald Communities. Olympic Property Group, owned by Pope Resources, sold the property to the developer and retained the timber rights to clearing the land. RV Associates Inc. was hired by Pope Resources, thought Olympic, to clear the land for development.

All of the companies are named as defendants in the suit.

The lawsuit claims the developers’ plan to log and clear the land was not created in a way that would “prevent the toppling of trees onto nearby public rights of way.” The developers “had a duty to protect Mr. Fay from hidden danger,” the complaint said.

The developers didn’t properly fence the clear-cut area, the complaint said, and failed to have a qualified arborist inspect two trees left in the clear-cut area. That resulted in a failure to find the extensive tree root rot and the removal of the “killer tree.”

The suit seeks unspecified damages as well as medical expenses for Fay’s survivors.


Follow Martha Bellisle at https://twitter.com/marthabellisle

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