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Desktop Review: Gretchen Gallo and Bad Neighbors

Desktop Review: Gretchen Gallo and Bad Neighbors

This desktop review came from the legal department of an insurance company. The matter was rooted in the claimant whose driveway and swimming pool were being damaged by the roots of a neighbor’s oak tree. Serious damages … think six figures.

The neighbor did, in fact, own the subject oak tree, and they were not disputing the fact that it was their tree that was causing the damages. The neighbors, however, were not lifting a finger to remedy the problem or offering any type of assistance or solution. Damage costs were rising, as were tempers and ill-will.

What to do was the question de jour. A certified arborist had been retained, as was an engineer, and a landscape architect. An action plan was created.

My assignment was to bless or curse the action plan.

Resolution came from an unlikely source, Gretchen Gallo. Many decades ago, it was Ms. Gallo for whom the courts declared that the owner of a tree has no duty to remedy damage caused by that tree to a neighbor’s property. But each state is governed by a rule that provides the legal path to follow when faced with damage from a neighbor’s tree.

The remedy is in your hands. And, except in Hawaii, at your own cost.

There are, of course, case law rulings that strictly dictate what can and cannot be done when invoking the privilege of self-help. Knowing these rules and abiding by them will keep you from being the subject of a desktop review.

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