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Family of Easthampton man killed in tree-cutting incident sues for $5 million

  • Hampshire County Courthouse, District and Superior Courts, 15 Gothic Street, Northampton.

Staff Writer
Published: 8/7/2019 11:38:47 PM

AMHERST — The family of a man who died in an Amherst tree-cutting incident in December has filed a $5 million lawsuit alleging that the property owner’s negligence led to the man’s death.

Thomas Moszynski, 38, of Easthampton died after he was struck in the head by a portion of a tree that he was cutting down on Flat Hills Road in Amherst. Moszynski, who was performing excavation and installation work at the site, died from his injuries while being transported to the hospital.

Moszynski’s father, Andrew Moszynski, also of Easthampton, filed the wrongful death lawsuit last week in Hampshire Superior Court against property owner Joseph Aimua, who is also known as Ebosele J. Aimua and lives in Westfield, and his company, Joslad & Associates.

Through his attorneys Thomas Lesser, Michael Aleo and Patrick Melnik, Andrew Moszynski alleges that Aimua, a developer and engineer, demonstrated negligence by not properly preparing or supervising the site for tree removal work and failing to hire an arborist qualified to safely remove the trees.

He seeks a jury trial and $5 million in damages.

According to court documents, an Amherst building permit application shows that Aimua identified himself as the construction supervisor and engineer who designed the project. Joslad & Associates was listed as the property owner.

Aimua hired Moszynski’s employer, Craig Malanson of Craig Malanson Trucking, to complete excavation work and install a sewage system at the site, according to court documents.

Messages the Gazette left for Aimua by phone Wednesday were not immediately returned, and his attorney could not be reached for comment. Aimua has not filed a response in court at this time.

Prior to the incident, the complaint alleges, Aimua already had a single-family house constructed on the property. Andrew Moszynski alleges that before the house’s construction, Aimua decided not to remove tall trees on a slope despite knowing that they “could pose a risk of falling and damaging the house.”

Aimua chose to remove the trees after the house was built, according to the complaint, and instructed Malanson and Joslad & Associates employees to cut down the trees. Andrew Moszynski’s complaint states that Aimua should have hired a certified arborist, who would be “best qualified to cut and remove trees from a site,” to complete this work instead.

“Mr. Aimua and Joslad & Associates knew or should have known that cutting down trees … is extremely dangerous and is associated with one of the highest fatality rates of any occupation in the United States,” the complaint states.

The complaint also alleges that Aimua “was aware of the fact that neither Mr. Malanson nor his employees were certified arborists or had any special expertise in removing trees.”

In May, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “issued a citation to Mr. Malanson … for a ‘serious’ violation” of an OSHA act, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, “The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm,” in that employees were exposed to dangers while removing the trees.

A hearing on a preliminary injunction will be held in Hampden County Superior Court on Friday. If granted, Aimua would be restricted in transferring the properties, assets and funds within his control.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.


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