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Homeowner blames city for house damage during Hanna

A Wilmington homeowner blames the city for a tree that crashed into her home. Nancy O'Dell and her neighbor Harold Horne say it is the city's fault for the damage a tree caused to their houses. Tropical storm Hanna's winds blew the tree over Saturday morning. The neighbors said the tree belongs to the city and they have been after them to chop it down. O'Dell said the city should pay for her roof repairs and not her insurance. O’Dell stated, “That's what we want to know, we think the city should be responsible for this. At least restore what we have.” O'Dell and her neighbor were also upset because they had been without electricity since Saturday morning.

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What if the tree had been a

What if the tree had been a light pole..or telephone pole planted firmly in the ground and it snapped and hit these peoples homes and did the same damage. (ie.) A kid roller skates on my driveway with defective roller skates...falls and breaks a arm. I pay...we pay...not the roller skate company. This subject is getting more response then the storm itself...and Obama and McCain :-)


Translation... I did not pay my home owners Insurance and I want some one else to take responsibility for my poor decision making.


The truth is that if it was a act of nature for the tree to fall, it is not the fault of who owns the tree. It will be up to your insurance to cover the damages that came from the tree falling on your property. I had a tree fall in my yard that was across the property line when fran came it did some damage to my house when trying to pursue who was at fault I found out that it was no ones fault but nature there fore I had to claim it on my insurance.

The law and trees

If it was a dead or diseased tree, the city is liable for not removing it. If the tree was healthy, the city faces no liability at all. It was an act of God. (I learned a LOT about "tree law" after Fran.)

photo of tree

from the photo of the article, it looks like the tree was in their yard and not on city property. We have a tree in our front that is on city property because it's right at the street...this tree doesn't look to one.

Sounds like an act of Satan

Sounds like an act of Satan to me, not an act of God. Someone needs to revamp their terminology in the insurance business, or do they think Satan wouldn't knock down a tree too? The wind blew it belonged to the city...the city should pay. You would expect your neighbor to pay if their tree fell over and damaged your home...wouldn't you? I know our Mayor would. HA!

Let's go over this again, slowly

Healthy tree, no liability. Act of God. (That's the legal term for it, not a tribute to my religious beliefs, or any disrespect intended toward Satan.) Dead tree, diseased tree, leaning tree - total liability, as it is designated a dangerous tree by law. The tree's owner can be sued to recover damages. Accordingly, I would NOT expect my neighbor to pay for damage to my house if a perfectly healthy tree on his property fell during a storm. A. I know the law. B. That's what MY insurance is for. Here's an example to consider - would you expect your neighbor to pay your damage if a storm ripped his roof off and dropped it onto your house? Of course not. As long as his house is well constructed and maintained, there was no reason to suspect that his roof would blow off in normal storm conditions. The same holds true for that healthy tree. There is no reason to suspect that a healthy tree will fall during the average hurricane. It cannot be is NOT the case with a dead, diseased, or leaning tree. There, you have clear evidence that the tree poses a risk. I'm sure these people would LOVE to have the city pay for their roofs, but that's what their insurance is for.

Your roof-blowing-off

Your roof-blowing-off analogy is absurd. A roof is a necessity: It is an integral part of a house, that has to be there. To ask a neighbor to remove his roof so it will not blow off and hit your house during a hurricane is to ask that person to destroy the functionality of his house. Therefore, a roof blowing off, if it happened, is to be considered to have been unavoidable, and the consequences unavoidable. A tree, on the other hand, does not have to be there. A tree on someone's property, that poses a menace to someone else's house, can be cut down or shorter without at all hampering the tree-owner's ability to use his property for its basic function.

Healthy tree = no menace

It's just NOT that difficult a concept, people!

Let's go over this

Let's go over this quickly... You must work for the city and be in law. So many lawyers in this town (if not all of them) have done work of some form or another for the city...the city has seen to that...and it is (1) unethical for *said lawyers* to represent a resident in case of a law suit against the city. Been there...done that! What an experience to have one of your family members hurt on city property due to an unsafe condition and not one fricken lawyer in town would take the negligence case against Wilmington. And to be told by a retired lawyer friend that was the reason (1) made us SICK! They can take their so called "fair act laws" and put them where the sun don't shine, repeatedly!! If someone would have died due to that tree falling on them...well that would be another case in time...out of town case no doubt. It's always the "easy way out method" for this city, and always leave behind the tax payers. Just take a cold hard look at what we have as a City Council...then a hard look at the city we live in. No wonder Hurricanes aim for us!

How is a healthy tree an unsafe condition?

The standing legal precedents have nothing to do with the city of Wilmington. The law governing liability is based upon common law and is relatively the same all over Western world. Unless an owner is negligent and fails to take appropriate action to rectify a dangerous condition, no liability ensues. A healthy tree is NOT a dangerous situation in any way, shape, or form.

Insurance companies and

Insurance companies and cities have been hiding behind this act of nature or act of God BS for too long to keep from paying for what is their responsibility. It might be the law, but it is not right. No more storm than we had the other night, a healthy tree should not have blown over.

Yes, you're correct. It SHOULDN't have blown over....

...but it did. To put it another way, there was absolutely no way for the tree's owner to perceive there was a danger posed by the tree, correct? So it's not a matter of hiding, it's a basic premise of tort liability - that the responsible party had knowledge or a reasonable suspicion that their act or failure to act would cause injury to another party. There was no reason to suspect that THAT tree would fall, was there? So the tree's owner was in no way negligent. Were that not an almost universal law, think about the ramifications - no one would dare grow a tree in their yard, for fear it could fall and hit a neighbor's house. No power company would erect a steel light pole in any residential neighborhood. Parks across the world would have to close for fear of a branch breaking off on a windy day and killing a passerby. So it's not only "right," it's the only way we can function.

BS. These people told the

BS. These people told the city the tree was a threat to their houses. At that point the city has an obligation to make the threat its tree posed to their property go away.

Commonsense, these people

Commonsense, these people said that the tree was damaged or diseased and had contacted the city several times about it. I am assumeing they are telling the truth. If the tree was indeed defective, it should have been removed.

Ah, but the city disagrees!

The city claims that the tree was healthy. It is now up to the homeowners' insurance companies to inspect the tree, and see if they are willing to pay for "tree experts" to testify with an opposing view to the city's in court. Then, it's up to a judge or jury.

When was the last time the

When was the last time the city checked it? If the pictures I saw where any indication, that was NOT a healthy tree. I hope the homeowners saved it and have an expert look at it.

Last post on trees. EVER

First, a review: Here is my very first post on the subject at hand. "If it was a dead or diseased tree, the city is liable for not removing it. If the tree was healthy, the city faces no liability at all. It was an act of God. (I learned a LOT about "tree law" after Fran.)" Please note! I did not argue the city's case, did I? I made a statement of fact only, and listed both possibilities, did I not? Now you folks can cry and whine like stuck puppies, but THAT is the law. Not just in "corrupt, crooked Wilmington," but in the entire state. A healthy tree is not a "dangerous tree." For those of you who successfully avoided even rudimentary exposure to tort liability processes in your life, here is how this will play out: 1. The injured parties contact the city, which claims that they are nuts and that the tree was the healthiest specimen on the entire coastal plain. (As we can see, that has already happened.) 2. The injured parties contact their insurance companies who examine the tree and make one of three decisions: A. "There was nothing wrong with this tree. We will pay for repairs. less your deductible." B. "The city is a bunch of lying dogs! This tree was a disaster waiting to happen. The trunk is rotted, there are termites in the roots, a fungus has ravaged the crown, and a gentle breeze could have toppled this tree. However, as a new roof for these two houses will cost less than the cost of hiring experts and filing suit, we will pay for the roof anyway." C. "The city is a bunch of lying dogs! This tree was a disaster waiting to happen. The trunk is rotted, there are termites in the roots, a fungus has ravaged the crown, and a gentle breeze could have toppled this tree. The tree not only damaged the roof, but several interior support walls and allowed the rain to trash the furnishings and carpet. Accordingly, we feel it is worth our while to sue to recover the money from the city. At that time, the city has two options: A. Fight the lawsuit and hope their experts are more convincing than the insurance company's experts. B. Settle because settling will likely be cheaper for THEM than going to trial. Now, here are my only two **opinions** on the subject: Unless there is an inordinate amount of damage inside the houses, the insurance companies will likely pay up and not file suit even if the tree was one-inch from death. It costs too much to simply get the ball rolling.....but if they do file suit..... ...the city, in general, has a backbone with the strength of overcooked linguine, and may offer to settle not only because it's cheaper, but to avoid the "mean ol' Wilmington," PR nightmare that is being manifested on this board by folks who refuse to accept what is established in law. Either way, these people are wasting their time dealing with the city directly. It's too easy for the city to gaff them off. That's what the insurance companies are for. Big guns are more impressive than bean shooters.