A terminally-ill former federal prosecutor has filed a lawsuit against travel company VRBO after his daughters died at a ‘firetrap’ $8,000-a-week Hamptons getaway.
Lewis Wiener, a former chair of the US 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 August 3, killing Lindsay, 19, and Jillian, 21.
Wiener, 60, who was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, was hoping for one last summer retreat with his family, but they were instead met with tragedy, the East Hampton Star reports.
While Wiener and his wife were able to escape, with son Zachary, 23, fleeing from a second-floor window, the sisters perished in the three-bedroom, two-bath, $1.8 million home.
The grieving family is seeking $75,000 for emotional distress along with an unspecified amount in economic and medical damages to be determined by a trial, the New York Post reports.
‘Rather than fond memories of a week’s vacation on Long Island’s east end, the Wiener family is left with a nightmare from which they cannot wake,’ the lawsuit filed with Brooklyn Federal Court states.
‘Defendants’ greed, corner-cutting, and willful failure to give any thought to the safety of the occupants of the premises 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 in August caught fire. Their family is now suing for $75,000 for emotional distress along with an unspecified amount in economic and medical damages
The home (pictured after the blaze) 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 as patriarch Lewis Wiener (center) was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Lewis was able to escape the blaze with wife Alisa (left) and son Zachary had to flee through the window
The family of five had been renting the 3 Spring Lane home, near Koyack Bay, when a fire broke out at around 3.30am on August 3.
According to the lawsuit, HomeAway.com let the family know that the house was well equipped with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire extinguishers, a first aid kit and other safety features.
According to a fire marshal’s report, the house actually lacked functioning smoke or carbon monoxide alarms.
Lawyers also alleged that the home lacked the proper rental permits, nor was its newly installed outdoor kitchen ever inspected by ‘a qualified electrician or other professional to ensure that it complied with local, state, and national safety standards.’
In total, the Miller’s faced 58 building code charges over their 3 Spring Lane property.
Wiener’s lawyers, however, also laid blame at the Southampton Town for allegedly fostering a culture of illegal rental units in the neighborhood.
In the lawsuit, attorney Andres Alonso said the town was responsible for ‘creating, through deliberate indifference, a known hazard of countless rental homes within the Town of Southampton including the home in question, which the respondent knew or should have known were being rented without having passed the requisite safety inspections.’
Alonso said Suffolk County is currently investigating the fire as a criminal matter.
VRBO, which owns HomeAway.com, declined to comment over pending litigation. The Millers did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Southampton Town attorney James Burke said in a statement that there were no specific claims the town could respond to and that it was cooperating with the Wieners.
Lewis Wiener, a former chair of the US Courts of Federal Claims, who is terminally-ill said his family was left heartbroken by the tragedy
Along with suing VRBO, Homeaway.com and property owners Pamela and Peter Miller, the Wieners blame Southampton Town for fostering a culture of illegal rentals in the neighborhood, which is a popular summer getaway
The young sisters were on the second-floor and unable to escape when the fire broke out
Additional charges against the Millers include failure to rent the property out for 14 days, failure to maintain carbon monoxide detectors, failure to fix electrical hazards, construction without permits, a gazebo with a fire pit, pool gates and installation of the kitchen outdoors.
Ryan Murphy, Southampton’s public safety and emergency management administrator, told the Star that it is not uncommon to have a dozen property violations.
Murphy said it was unknown how many illegal rental units exist in Southampton, but said on average there are between 3,500 and 4,000 permitted rentals in the town.
Those in violation of rental permit law can face 15 days in jail or fines between $150 to $1,500, according to the town’s code.
The house is located near Long Beach and is listed for $1.8million on Zillow with rent running from about $26,000 a month. The property was last sold in 2016.
Lindsay was known as ‘a bright spirit and a leader.’ Jillian shared many pictures from her summer on the east coast before she was killed in a fire in her family’s Hamptons vacation home on August 3
Lindsay was just weeks shy of starting her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans
Jillian was about to begin her senior year at the University of Michigan. She studied earth and environmental science
While the charges are clear, it’s still uncertain why the fire broke out in early August when the family was asleep.
Jillian and Lindsay were asleep on the second floor when the fire occurred. The sisters didn’t make it out of the blaze in time, and their brother Zachary, 23, had to jump out the second-floor window.
Their parents, Lewis and Alisa, were able to flee in time from the 1,624-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home to safety.
Lewis, Alisa and Zachary Wiener were all hospitalized with what officials called non-life threatening injuries.
Jillian was about to begin her senior year at the University of Michigan, where she was an earth and environmental science student, according to her LinkedIn.
While her younger sister Lindsay was just weeks shy of starting her sophomore year at Tulane University in New Orleans.