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Tree Cutting Disputes & Trespass to Timber

Cases involving the cutting, trimming, or other unauthorized damage to trees owned by neighbors can become extremely contentious and emotional. Trees can add considerable value to real estate, and California law regards the wrongful damage to, or removal of, trees to be a potentially serious matter. Sometimes neighbors take the law into their own hands, and trim trees that do not belong to them in an unlawful manner. On the other hand, negligently maintained trees can cause damage to neighboring properties, and may constitute hazards to property and safety. Regardless of which side of the dispute that you are on, these kinds of issues can have serious legal consequences.

Trees can be the source of dispute between neighbors. Sometimes one neighbor plants trees very close to the property line thereby causing problems to the other neighbor’s property. View blockage is sometimes an issue, and California law is complicated concerning this subject. Roots from certain types of trees on one neighbor’s property sometimes causes damage to adjacent properties. Ideally people will resolve these problems without lawyers. Unfortunately, however, this is not always possible, and sometimes when a dispute of this type exists, you need a lawyer. Our Firm is experienced in tree-related disputes. We have a proven track record of negotiating settlements in tree disputes, as well as taking such cases all the way to trial and verdict.

The general rule in California is that if a person wrongfully enters onto the land of another and cuts or removes the plaintiff’s timber, the plaintiff is entitled to double damages. [California Civil Code §3346(a); Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §733]. Where the wrongdoer intentionally acted willfully and maliciously, intending to vex, harass, annoy, or injure, the plaintiff is entitled to treble damages. [ Caldwell v. Walker (1963) 211 Cal. App. 2d 758, 762; Crofoot Lumber, Inc. v. Ford (1961) 191 Cal. App. 2d 238]. Punitive damages may be awarded in lieu of treble damages. Where punitive damages are awarded under Civil Code §3294, damages should be neither doubled nor trebled as this would constitute punishing the defendant twice. [Hassoldt v. Patrick Media Group, Inc. (2000) 84 Cal. App. 4th 153, 169].

Whether lawsuits of this type involve double or treble damages, or punitive damages, the fact is that these lawsuits are serious. If you are a plaintiff, you will need experienced attorneys to represent you. If you are a defendant, this is equally true. Our Firm has considerable experience in representing litigants in these actions and is prepared to undertake competent, cost-effective representation.

Our first approach is always to attempt to negotiate with the other side. Most lawsuits or disputes can be and are resolved without recourse to a trial and verdict. However, if negotiations are not feasible or successful, we are fully prepared to take the case to trial to enforce and protect your rights.

If you are involved in a dispute of this type, please contact our Firm at 714-450-6568 to speak to an attorney. Your phone consultation is always at no charge, and if it appears that you have a case requiring representation our Firm will arrange for a follow-up, in-person consultation with an attorney at no charge or obligation to you.