Case details

Defense: Tree trimming done properly, despite accident





Result type

Not present

left leg, leg, pain, right knee, swelling, tibial plateau fracture, torn meniscus
On July 10, 2013, plaintiff Albert Hann, 56, a greeter at a discount department store, was helping to cut down a tree branch at the residence of his friend, Eugene Hayes, in San Jose. Hayes had hired another friend, who was an unlicensed tree trimmer, to assist with trimming a tree on the property. At some point, the tree trimmer friend began sawing off a large branch while Hayes held onto a rope to help bring the branch down. Hann, without being asked, also came to help bring the branch down. Ultimately, the branch landed on Hann’s right leg. Hann sued Hayes and the co-owner of the residence, Linda Clark (who was initially erroneously sued as “Lynn Clark”). Clark was ultimately dismissed from the case. Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Hayes could have prevented the accident, but, instead, was negligent for hiring someone that was unlicensed; for allowing Hann near the trimming, which is an inherently dangerous activity; and by not telling Hann to leave while the trimming was occurring. Thus, counsel argued that Hann was owed a duty of care. Plaintiff’s counsel also contended that a California Business & Professions Code statute states that when trimming trees above a certain height, the tree trimmer must be licensed. Thus, counsel was able to get the court to order a negligence per se jury instruction against Hayes. Defense counsel argued that everything was done properly despite the lack of license from Hayes’ friend. Counsel also argued that nothing was done negligently and that the fact that the branch landed on Hann’s leg while the branch was being brought down was simply an unfortunate incident., Hann sustained a tibial plateau fracture of his left leg and a torn meniscus of his right knee. He was subsequently taken by his girlfriend to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, in San Jose. Nine days later, Hann underwent open reduction and internal fixation surgery. Hann missed several months of work as a result of his . Hann claimed residual permanent and problems with his leg, including pain and swelling. He alleged that as a result, he now has difficulty walking and that he had to give up hiking, which he had always previously enjoyed. In addition, Hann claimed that he now permanently requires the use of a cane when walking. The plaintiff’s physical medicine expert opined that Hann would need lifelong care and treatment for his . The expert also opined that Hann would require surgery to treat his right knee injury. The plaintiff’s life care planning expert opined that, based on the findings of the plaintiff’s physical medicine expert, Hann would require $148,046 in future care, including surgery. The defense’s expert orthopedic surgeon performed an independent medical exam of Hann and opined that no further treatment was required.
Superior Court of Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, CA

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