Don't Cut Down Your Neighbor's Trees!

Don't Cut Down Your Neighbor's Trees!

Your neighbor’s large, overgrown trees are obstructing the sweeping views of the Los Angeles landscape.  So you take matters into your own hands and hire a landscaper to cut down or trim the offending trees.

Probably not a good idea, as an Encino man named Kaveh Kanani learned last week when the California Court of Appeal upheld a judgment of close to $270,000.00 against him.

Mr. Kanani moved into a new home in Encino in 2013.  Jeanette Fulle lived down the hill from him, and her large eucalyptus trees obstructed Mr. Kanani’s view of the San Fernando Valley.  He hired a landscaper to trim Ms. Fulle’s trees, without her permission.  The landscaper trespassed, cut the trees, and left them in such bad shape that they had to later be removed.

Ms. Fulle sued Kanani for treble (triple) damages under Civil Code Section 3346.  A jury found Ms. Fulle’s damages to be close to $90,000.00.  These include the value of the damage to the trees; $20,000 to repair the damage; and $30,000 for annoyance and discomfort damages.

On appeal, the Court upheld the triple damages award.  The Court ruled that “annoyance and discomfort” damages may be doubled or tripled when the damage is caused by a trespassing violation.  In this case, it was.

This case illustrates an obscure area of law that probably affects more people in California than you might think!  You can read the Civil Code section discussing treble damages against those who illegally cut down trees here.

The moral of the story:  If you illegally cut your neighbor’s trees– you might get saddled with one hefty gardening bill.

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