Verdicts and Settlements
REAL PROPERTY, Trespass – Conversion – Wrongful Injury and Cutting of Trees
SETTLEMENT RESULT: $20,000 in damages paid to Plaintiffs by Defendants.
CASE: Brian Petrie and John Cash v. Eric Reiner and Anton Borowski, Case No. CIV 454875
SETTLEMENT DATE: April 20, 2007
ATTORNEYS: : Plaintiff- Barri Kaplan Bonapart (Bonapart & Associates, Sausalito)
Defendant- Devereaux Rendler (Law Offices of Beverly Narayan, San Jose)
Robert P. Gates (Erskine & Tulley, San Francisco)
EXPERTS: Plaintiff- Leonard Burkhart, arborist, Davey Tree Experts, Oakland
FACTS & CONTENTIONS: Plaintiffs and Defendants are neighbors in Belmont, CA. For fifteen years, there existed five mature coast live oak trees on Plaintiffs’ property, which provided privacy and shading. While Plaintiffs were out of town on vacation, Defendants, using a ladder and a chainsaw duck-taped to a broom handle, trimmed all branches on Plaintiffs’ property which were overhanging their property. The work was performed using unacceptable pruning practices resulting in extreme disfigurement and damage to the trees, and was done without the permission or knowledge of Plaintiffs. Many of the trees were damaged severely enough that they were recommended for removal by a certified arborist.
Plaintiffs brought causes of action against Defendants for trespass, conversion, negligence, negligence per se, and wrongful cutting of trees pursuant to C.C. § 3346 (a) and C.C.P. § 733. They sought damages for the loss in value of the trees, loss of use and enjoyment of the property, and discomfort and annoyance, as well as attorney’s fees and costs.
CLAIMED DAMAGES: Plaintiffs’ arborist calculated the appraised loss of the trees to be anywhere from $26,350 on the low end, to $52,700 if all of them need to be removed and replaced (not including the cost of removal).