Neighbor Trespasses and Cuts Trees, Leads to Verdict of Treble and Punitive Damages

ATC lawyer Tyler Dillard recently represented a Gwinnett County property owner in a case involving claims for trespass and cutting timber. The client’s neighbor cut down two large trees near the property line without the permission of the client. After the client and the neighbor were unable to work out the dispute, the client represented herself by filing suit in Magistrate Court. Unfortunately for the client, the neighbor hired an attorney and prevailed at the Magistrate Court trial.

Frustrated with the outcome, the client then turned to ATC for representation. Tyler appealed the Magistrate Court decision and set the case for a new trial in State Court. After the parties were still unable to resolve the dispute, Tyler conducted a two-day trial seeking justice for the firm’s client.

At trial the Defendant denied that the trees were on the client’s property. One of the two large trees was centered squarely on the property line itself, but Tyler presented Georgia law to the Court which established that a boundary line tree belongs to both landowners and that  neither can cut the tree without permission of the other.  The Defendant also denied that he was the person who cut the trees.  However, Tyler conducted a lengthy cross examination of the Defendant and exposed several inconsistencies with his prior statements. Tyler also presented expert testimony from a land surveyor regarding the location of the trees and an arborist regarding the value of the trees.

At the conclusion of the trial, Tyler received a verdict in favor of the client which included an award of treble damages giving the client three times the value of each tree and an award of punitive damages intended to punish the defendant for knowingly trespassing on the client’s property.

If you have a problem with a neighbor trespassing on your property or cutting trees that belong to you, you may likely have a strong legal claim for damages. If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney regarding one of these issues, please contact Andersen,Tate & Carr.