The claim was filed on May 4 in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division by Burlington attorney Richard T. Cassidy, of the firm Hoff Curtis, on behalf of Kellie Baker Waite, the widow of Matthew Waite.
In May 2010, Vermont State Police said Waite, 50, was driving a Chevrolet 2500 pickup truck on a road owned by the Green Mountain National Forest near the Peru/Winhall town line. Police said there were high winds reported in the area, and a tree came down on Waite's truck as he drove under it, crushing the cab and killing him.
According to the complaint, the incident occurred on Walt's Camp Road, which is on Green Mountain Forest Land in Peru. Sometime between 2006 and 2007, the National Wild Turkey Federation entered into a timber purchase agreement known as the Apple Orchard Timer Sale, with the U.S. Forest Service, the purpose of that being to thin that area of woods and make it more hospitable for wild turkey.
The complaint alleges that the Turkey Federation wished to leave certain types of dead trees known as "snags," which the complaint says are important to the federation because they provide roosting sites for turkeys.
Cassidy wrote that the federation subcontracted with Dern Enterprises Inc, also known as Paul Bunyon Logging, owned by Claude
The complaint alleges that Dern hired Waite Excavating Inc, owned by Matthew Waite, to do some work in connection with the logging activities, and that Dern scheduled a meeting with Waite on May 6 at a spot near Walt's Camp Road.
According to the complaint, a large branch fell from a tree onto Waite's truck, killing him, and that the tree was marked as one to keep.
Cassidy, on behalf of the Waite family, is accusing the federation and Dern of negligence, in that they should have known the tree posed a danger, and that their negligence causes Waite's death. The complaint does not specify an amount for damages.
Cassidy said Thursday the complaint largely speaks for itself. Calls to the National Wild Turkey Federation were not returned, and
attempts to reach Dern were not successful.