Tort Law

Cities Prune Budgets to Monitor Aging Trees as Injury Claims Add Up


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Sitting or walking under an aging tree can be dangerous, lawsuits reveal.

The case of Alexis Handwerker illustrates the hazards, the New York Times reports. She was seated on a bench beneath an elm in Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Square Park in 2007 when a tree limb 30 feet above broke off and fell on top of her. She received a $4 million settlement in February after her lawyers found evidence that park workers missed indications the tree was rotting.

In the last 10 years, New York City has faced at least 10 lawsuits over death or injuries from older trees, the story says. Millions of dollars in damages have been paid. Yet New York and cities across the nation are saving money by cutting budgets to monitor and prune aging trees.

Other New York cases include that of a grandmother who died in 2003 when the canopy of a maple collapsed, and that of a Google engineer injured in 2009 by a falling limb from an oak tree. The grandmother’s family received $1.6 million after an appeal, while the engineer’s case is pending.

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