A terminally ill former federal prosecutor has filed a lawsuit against travel company VRBO after his daughters died during an $8,000-a-week getaway in the Hamptons.
Lewis Wiener, former president of the U.S. Courts of Federal Claims, accused VRBO, Homeaway.com, and property owners Pamela and Peter Miller of failing to maintain his family’s safety when a fire broke out on Aug. 3, killing Lindsay, 19, and Jillian. came to life. , 21.
Wiener, 60, who was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, hoped for a last summer retreat with his family, but instead she stumbled upon tragedy, the East Hampton star reports.
While Wiener and his wife were able to escape, with son Zachary, 23, fleeing from a second-story window, the sisters perished in the three-bedroom, two-bathroom $1.8 million home.
The grieving family is seeking $75,000 for emotional distress, along with an unspecified amount of economic and medical damages to be determined by trial.
“Instead of fond memories of a week’s vacation on the east side of Long Island, the Wiener family is left with a nightmare from which they cannot awaken,” the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court said.
“The defendants’ greed, corner cutting and willful failure to pay any attention to the safety of the occupants of the property led to the deaths of Jillian Rose Wiener and her sister Lindsay Eliza Wiener.”
Sisters Jillian, 21 (left), and Linday, 19 (right), Wiener died after the $8,000-a-week Hamptons home they were renting caught fire in August. Their family is now suing for $75,000 for emotional distress along with an unspecified amount of economic and medical damages
The house (photographed after the fire) was found to have 58 building code violations, including a lack of functioning smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
The family was enjoying what would be their last summer together when patriarch Lewis Wiener (center) was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Lewis managed to escape the fire with wife Alisa (left) and son Zachery had to flee through the window
The family of five was renting the house at 3 Spring Lane, near Koyack Bay, when a fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. on August 3.
According to the lawsuit, HomeAway.com informed the family that the home was properly equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers, a first aid kit and other safety features.
According to a fire chief’s report, the house actually lacked functioning smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
Lawyers also alleged that the home did not have proper rental permits, and that the newly installed outdoor kitchen had never been inspected by “a qualified electrician or other professional to ensure it met local, state, and national safety standards.”
In all, the Millers faced 58 building code charges for their 3 Spring Lane properties.
However, Wiener’s lawyers also blamed Southampton Town for allegedly fostering a culture of illegal rental housing in the neighbourhood.
In the lawsuit, lawyer Andres Alonso said the city was responsible for “creating, through willful indifference, a known hazard of numerous rental properties in the city of Southampton, including the house in question, which the respondent knew or should have known were being rented out without passing the required safety inspections.’
Alonso said Suffolk County is currently investigating the fire as a criminal case.
VRBO, owner of HomeAway.com, declined to comment on pending litigation. The Millers did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Southampton Town lawyer James Burke said in a statement that there were no specific claims the town could comment on and that it was cooperating with the Wieners.
Lewis Wiener, a former president of the US federal claims courts who is terminally ill, said his family was heartbroken by the tragedy
In addition to suing VRBO, Homeaway.com and property owners Pamela and Peter Miller, the Wieners are blaming Southampton Town for fostering a culture of illegal rentals in the neighborhood, a popular summer vacation destination.
The young sisters were on the second floor and were unable to escape when the fire broke out
Additional charges against the Millers include failure to rent the property for 14 days, failure to maintain carbon monoxide detectors, failure to repair electrical hazards, construction without permits, a gazebo with a fire pit, pool gates, and installation of the outdoor kitchen.
Ryan Murphy, Southampton’s administrator for public safety and emergency management, told the Star it’s not unusual to have a dozen property violations.
Murphy said it was unknown how many illegal rental properties there are in Southampton, but said there are on average between 3,500 and 4,000 permitted rental properties in the city.
Those who violate the rental permit law could face 15 days in jail or fines between $150 and $1,500, according to the city’s law.
The home is located near Long Beach and is listed on Zillow for $1.8 million with a rent of about $26,000 per month. The property was last sold in 2016.
Lindsey was known as “a cheerful spirit and a leader.” Jillian shared many photos from her summer on the East Coast before she died in a fire at her family’s Hamptons vacation home on Aug. 3.
Lindsay was just weeks shy of starting her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans
Jillian was about to start her senior year at the University of Michigan. She studied earth and environmental sciences
While the allegations are clear, it is uncertain why the fire broke out in early August when the family was asleep.
Jilian and Lindsay were sleeping on the second floor when the fire broke out. The sisters didn’t make it out in time, but their brother Zachary, 23, jumped out of a second-floor window.
Their parents, Lewis and Alisa, were able to flee the 150-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home in time to make it to safety.
Lewis, Alisa and Zachary Wiener were all hospitalized with what officials called non-life-threatening injuries.
According to her LinkedIn, Jillian was about to start her senior year at the University of Michigan, where she studied earth and environmental sciences.
While her younger sister Lindsay was just weeks shy of starting her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans.