State government on trial a decade after Merritt Parkway deaths

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HARTFORD — A trial over whether state government is responsible for the deaths of a New York couple killed when a tree crashed onto their car on the Merritt Parkway has been scheduled for next June, 10 years after the accident.

Joseph Stavola and Jeanne Serocke-Stavola died and their two sons were injured in the Westport accident. Their sons were 7 and 9 at the time and now live with family in the Hartford area.

Relatives of the Pelham Manor, New York, couple asked the state claims commissioner in 2008 for permission to sue the state, as required by law. Their request wasn’t approved until 2013.

The lawsuit alleges negligence and bystander emotional distress and names the state and Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker as defendants.

State officials deny the allegations.