New York's Killer Trees

It sounds like the plot out of a bad B movie, but to the families of those killed and injured by falling limbs and branches from trees in New York's parks and public spaces, it's a real-life horror story that raises questions of municipal liability.

In a three-part series appearing in The New York Times, William Glaberson and Lisa W. Foderaro examine "deaths and injuries caused by falling trees in New York City, and a haphazard, financially strapped system of tree care and inspections."

Over the last decade, at least ten lawsuits have been brought against New York City for deaths and injuries caused by falling limbs and branches. As the authors note, amidst a local and national backdrop of steep cutbacks in funding for tree care and safety, "The city has paid millions of dollars in damage claims, with far more expected."

"Lawyers and investigators hired by the victims have gathered parks records, taken sworn testimony from city officials and parks workers, and hired tree-care experts to review city procedures. The collected evidence, taken together with public records and interviews with outside experts and parks officials, depicts an overstretched and haphazard system of tree inspections and care, one in which the crucial job of spotting dangers can be left to untrained workers, and repairs and pruning are delayed to save money."

"At the center of many of the cases is a simple question: how much responsibility does the city have for protecting people who pass beneath its graceful elms, oaks and maples?"

 

Full Story: Neglected, Rotting Trees Turn Deadly

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