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Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son
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eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 16:03:14 MDT Print View

http://news.yahoo.com/idaho-family-sues-usfs-1m-180507334.html

An Idaho family has sued the U.S. Forest Service demanding more than $1 million after a large dead tree at a remote campsite fell and injured their young son.
Richard and Melinda Armstrong, of Caldwell, said their family was camping in the Boise National Forest in September 2010 when a gust of wind blew over the dead tree. It fell on their son, resulting in a large laceration, a compound fracture and a puncture wound in his back that impaired his breathing.
The boy, who was 6 at the time, was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Boise.
The couple said the Forest Service was negligent because it didn't remove the tree, which was a hazard. They're suing for more than $1 million in damages and emotional stress in federal court.


more at link

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 16:16:47 MDT Print View

sigh :(

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 16:17:07 MDT Print View

rtyik

Dirk R
(Dirk)
Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 16:35:49 MDT Print View

Chances of winning - next to zero.

I present to you a couple of recent lawsuits - one involving the collapse of ice caves that killed a young girl in Washington state and the other involving a hiker killed by a goat at Olympic National Park.

Both are tragic stories involving profound loss. In both cases, the lawsuits were dismissed.

Edited by Dirk on 04/12/2013 16:40:40 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 17:01:55 MDT Print View

"Both are tragic stories involving profound loss. In both cases, the lawsuits were dismissed."

That's what rarely makes the news, unfortunately. Many, many cases are dismissed, and many more lost by such people. That they try to sue for some ridiculous sum is what always makes the news, and too often drives 'discussions' about lawsuits and such.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 17:38:48 MDT Print View

How come it is always Eric that brings us this weird news?

--B.G.--

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 17:41:47 MDT Print View

Eric is directly wired for the weird and odd news story. Probably WiFi.


How do you find this stuff?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Idaho family sues... on 04/12/2013 17:45:31 MDT Print View

Idahoan? Wonder if this family espouses small government and individual freedom? Now, of course, it is the government that needs to step up -- as always...

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 17:46:28 MDT Print View

This tree fell on us at about 2AM on USFS land. I cannot believe that trail crews don't monitor tree conditions. This tree obviously should have been removed long agao.

1

It put some holes in my ShangriLa 3 and scared the kids and I pretty good. We had to get up and move camp in the night.

While nobody was physically injured, the emotional scars run deep. Every time I hear wind in the trees I get panic attacks. My children have terrible recurring nightmares.

I figure shelter replacement and compensation for psychological damages for the three of us should amount to at least $250,000.

Any attorneys on BPL wanna take on a pro bono case?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 18:02:32 MDT Print View

"Any attorneys on BPL wanna take on a pro bono case?"

Interesting that you mentioned Sonny. He died skiing when he ran into a tree. The family didn't sue. His wife said drug abuse was the cause.

"And The Beat Goes On"

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Will litigate for cuben fiber on 04/12/2013 18:13:40 MDT Print View

Actually I don't have a JD so that might be a problem.

If an established campground is ignoring an obviously diseased tree which is leaning towards established camp sites... there may be an argument for negligence.

I used to drink the tort reform kool aid but after seeing my friends wife become a vegetable due to a drugged anesthesiologist and almost losing my mom (no palpable pulse or BP/week in ICU) to another physicians negligence, I now see shades of gray when it comes to civil liability (not promoting it/just saying I understand.) The only problems is in this case, it is the tax payer who is getting sued.

Hopefully the poor kid will recover well.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/12/2013 20:20:48 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Will Litigate for Cuben on 04/12/2013 18:24:42 MDT Print View

In my opinion good torte reform would keep stupid cases like this out of the courts and free them up to deal with real cases (of which there are plenty). Maybe making losers pay legal fees for really outrageous claims would help.

When I helped with summer camps our biggest headaches were health inspectors and potential liability. There were a lot of fun activities that we didn't do just because we could have gotten sued.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Who will stand up for Bambi? on 04/12/2013 18:45:55 MDT Print View

Any animal rights lawyers out there willing to take this one on?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXCUBVS4kfQ

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 04/12/2013 19:05:48 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/09/2013 21:59:29 MDT.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 19:18:40 MDT Print View

I hate people.

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 04/12/2013 19:34:57 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/09/2013 21:58:57 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Craig's close encounter on 04/12/2013 19:41:31 MDT Print View

@Daniel

ABove is the legal story.
Below is the actual story.

My son and his friend (both 11) were in the tent with me.
The bozos slept through the whole thing. I woke to the sound of the tree snapping and falling and hitting the tent, then woke the kids to see if they were OK. It was close; I suppose that if the tree fell a bit closer to us that someone would've been hit with the weight of the trunk and not the thinner top branches.

Clues?
They were everywhere. Between floods and fires, there are a TON of dead trees in the canyon we camped in. I know the area well and it's pretty hard to camp without being around dead trees. What I did not expect was the 50+MPH gusts that kicked up after midnight. The entire day was calm, not even breezy, no hint of a windstorm coming.

The kids actually thought it was an adventure and had fun breaking camp and hiking in a windstorm in the middle of the night. They're hardly traumatized...now my son and his friend brag about it.

Granted, it could've been worse, but I don't do anything different or take any big lessons from this. We could've camped somewhere else without dead trees and been killed by a falling rock instead. It was just one of those things.

I just blew my case, didn't I?

Edited by xnomanx on 04/12/2013 19:49:10 MDT.

Karl Keating
(KarlKeating) - MLife
Torte vs. Tort on 04/12/2013 20:03:32 MDT Print View

I'm all for tort reform--I say this as an attorney--because the system is out of whack.

On the other hand, I'm even more strongly in favor of torte reform. In my opinion, the best torte reform would be to replicate the chocolate Sachertorte, which can still be had at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Sachertorte on 04/12/2013 20:13:07 MDT Print View

You have me drooling! I spent 5 days in Vienna in the summer of 2001 and basically lived on the stuff, with an occasional foray into other kinds of torte. Not a very healthy diet, but cheaper than buying dinner (Vienna restaurants are expensive!). Breakfast (in the hostel) was a trifle healthier.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:
Per the news article
http://news.yahoo.com/idaho-family-sues-usfs-1m-180507334.html
the family was camped in a dispersed site, not in an established campground. They claim that because the dispersed site was well-used and close to a road, the Forest Service should have maintained it.

Isn't there something called "due diligence" here, in that the family should have had sense enough not to camp next to a dead tree?

My fear is that this sort of thing will make the USFS prohibit dispersed camping altogether!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/13/2013 17:43:37 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Ha ha! Oops! on 04/12/2013 20:24:44 MDT Print View

One of the attnys I work with is also one of the best bakers I've ever met. After retirement, she's planning on opening a shop called "From Torts to Tarts."

Well Craig, seeing that you were assaulted and temporarily held hostage by this vile tree... well I know a Dr..... have you ever heard of Stockholm Syndrome?

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F - M

Locale: Northern California
Re: Torte vs. Tort on 04/12/2013 20:38:44 MDT Print View

In my opinion, the best torte reform would be to replicate the chocolate Sachertorte, which can still be had at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna.

A bit dry for my taste, even with the whipped cream, but its legal history is certainly apropos. The strudel, on the other hand....

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
bad case on 04/12/2013 20:41:18 MDT Print View

As a personal injury lawyer strongly opposed to tort reform, I can tell you this does not sound like a case I would file. And it has won no money yet, before anyone gets too outraged. On the other hand, there was recently a case where a doctor amputated the wrong limb, leaving the patient with one bad limb and his good limb is now gone. Jury found against the patient. Press ignores it.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Sachertorte on 04/12/2013 20:41:31 MDT Print View

"Isn't there something called "due diligence" here, in that the family should not have had sense enough not to camp next to a dead tree?"

Absolutely. We have a federal campground near where I live which has a very large and very dead tree which is now leaning towards a few established campsites. Its arguable if it eventually falls on someone that the Corps of Engineers should have spent a couple bucks on gas and cut it down before it became a problem. I don't think it's safe and I wish they would show some initiative and avoid the issue all together.

On the other hand, dispersed/stealth/back 40 camping, the BLM/USDA/EIEIO can't be held responsible for every widow maker out there.

BRB off to the bakery!

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/12/2013 20:43:07 MDT Print View

Oh the horror of setting up in the dark in heavy wind and waking up at first daylight to a partially burned, partially rotten redwood tree big enough to flatten a house with a partially hollowed out base leaning right over where you slept.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Health Care on 04/12/2013 20:48:45 MDT Print View

I cant tell from the link but is the insurance company suborogating the claim and suing on the families behalf or making the family sue? Private insurers generally have a suborogation clause.

One reason the US sees more law suits than say Canada or Austrailia is the lack of public health care. If you look at the Mcdonalds coffee case at the root of it was Mcdonalds refusal to pay for the health care costs of the women so she sued.

I dont want to derail this thread on the merits of public or private health care but one of the consequences is that when situations lie this occur insuance companies require law suits to recoop their costs

Daniel Fish
(daniel@fishfamilypdx.com)

Locale: PDX
... on 04/12/2013 21:55:53 MDT Print View

...

Edited by daniel@fishfamilypdx.com on 06/09/2013 21:58:26 MDT.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son on 04/13/2013 10:16:11 MDT Print View

This just in... "child sues parents for $1M for camping under potential deadfall".


"In this case I'd be looking for a down tree to snuggle up next to. Never had any close calls to find out if it's a smart tactic.
"

In my first big lesson on how all-day exposure to high winds and light rain could potentially lead to hypothermia, even in not so cold weather, I actually pitched my tarp over a huge fallen split-trunked tree. It was majorly cozy in there with tree trunks for walls and the wind howling outside! Thing to remember it to make sure all the dead-falling part is well over first! lol Oh... also make sure some other critter doesn't already have dibs.

I'd like to place my vote for LINZER torte as the world's best dessert!

Edited by millonas on 04/13/2013 12:00:55 MDT.

Sharon J.
(squark) - F

Locale: SF Bay area
Re: RE: "setting up in the dark in heavy wind" on 04/13/2013 14:58:15 MDT Print View

"... I'd be looking for a down tree to snuggle up next to."

Problem with reading these threads from the newest to oldest and out of context, is that I started picturing a snuggly down tree as part of the sleep system, and wondering about the fill power.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: RE: "setting up in the dark in heavy wind" on 04/13/2013 16:04:31 MDT Print View

Well, the wind wasn't that heavy, just heavy for a closed forest.
I stay out of the woods during big windstorms. I have seen the destruction caused by wind and it's freaking scary, especially in places that have many burned trees. I actually prolonged a trip for an extra day because the only way back to my car was through thousands of dead/burned trees and the wind was really blowing hard.
The issue is hiking in at night and not being able to see potential hazards like widow makers or leaning trees.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Open mouth insert foot on 04/13/2013 17:01:47 MDT Print View

"I'd like to place my vote for LINZER torte as the world's best dessert!"

Keep 'em coming.... I can take it....

I'd feel silly if it wasn't for the fact that my otherwise highly intelligent supervisor sent a flyer to several of our stakeholders on how to get in touch with the local "Pubic" Defenders.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/13/2013 17:04:50 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
"Idaho family sues USFS on 04/13/2013 17:42:23 MDT Print View

I think I blew it--I put in an extra "not"!

Should have read: "The family should have had sense enough not to camp next to a dead tree." The due diligence should have been on the part o the family IMHO. I went back and corrected the original but that's already on another page.

Subrogation--I used to work for an HMO and they most definitely urged suing if there was any chance at all that a third party (or their insurance company) could be made to pay.

Linzertorte, sachertorte, dobostorte (the last Hungarian)--I tried almost all of them!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/13/2013 17:47:57 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
I followed you on 04/13/2013 18:23:18 MDT Print View

I understood your underlying statement and I agree. You can't hold other people or agencies accountable for "acts of God."

Edit: and in this case, for their own poor camp site selection. I think it gets sticky in the case of KOAesque campgrounds and they have some responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment around the campsites. Should they be held responsible for a rogue branch which falls out of a tree and damages a RV; no. Should they remove a dead tree which is leaning over a campsite; yes (IMO). Should the camper use enough common sense not to camp there; yes.

They are going to spend money, tie up the court, stress over this case, and otherwise not move on with their lives mentally and emotionally for a case that they are unlikely to win. It will depend on a number of factors and not all attorneys are created equal (not commenting on present company.)

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/13/2013 18:37:06 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: I followed you on 04/13/2013 18:33:28 MDT Print View

But Ian, this 'Merica. Ain't nuthin' my fault. I gotta sue somebody. Plus, my rights were violated.

Edited by T.L. on 04/13/2013 18:34:32 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Funny man! on 04/13/2013 18:42:46 MDT Print View

Yeah isn't that the truth! I had to edit and refine my point because I don't wan't to come across as some litigious person. I'm not. I deal with the criminal courts every day at work and I have no desire to deal with any of the courts in my personal life. The confrontational nature of it is exhausting and emotionally draining.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Darwin wept on 04/13/2013 19:54:17 MDT Print View

You'll get em next time Mr. Darwin.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: RE: "setting up in the dark in heavy wind" on 04/14/2013 03:47:36 MDT Print View

> I stay out of the woods during big windstorms.

Ever seen what happens when lightning hits the top of a tree? A hardwood tree?
The current, millions of amps, runs down inside the tree. The sap inside the tree boils furiously. The tree explodes. Think 6' long 'matchsticks' of hardwood, flying outwards at very high speed.

Ridges in a thunderstorm can also be dangerous.

Cheers

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Lightning on 04/14/2013 10:46:50 MDT Print View

I've seen that same phenomenon with Engelmann spruce, which has a spiral grain. Enormous splinters, 10 to 30 feet long, were driven way into the ground for at least 100 yards surrounding the tree. This was in the Colorado Rockies on a level plateau in relatively (for 10,000 feet elevation) thick forest--that just happened to be the one tree that developed the electrical charge. There was no way to tell if that tree had been taller than the surrounding forest.

The scariest thing was that this happened right along the trail we were following. We were horse packing, and one of the horses had her pack tip over, forcing us to stop, rebalance the pack and reload. It was while we were reloading the horse that the lightning struck. We got to the tree 20 minutes later, and realized that if that pack hadn't gone over, we'd have been right there when the lightning struck!

Awesome force, lightning, deserving of great respect. Ben Franklin was really lucky that he didn't get fried!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/14/2013 10:48:11 MDT.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Sooo?? on 04/14/2013 14:05:40 MDT Print View

You guys make that suit sound like it's a bad thing.

C'mon, this is AMERICA, land of the tort. Maybe the family can "settle out of court" and get enough for a Bahamas vacation.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: RE: "setting up in the dark in heavy wind" on 04/14/2013 16:52:53 MDT Print View

"Problem with reading these threads from the newest to oldest and out of context, is that I started picturing a snuggly down tree as part of the sleep system, and wondering about the fill power."

If it were me, I'd be wondering about the fall power. ;0)

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son" on 04/18/2013 18:14:31 MDT Print View

I don't know whether this is a greedy family trying to cash in on tragedy or if they really are so ignorant that they think National Parks are somehow maintained for perfect safety- no dead trees, no wild animals, no potential for bodily harm. The latter would not surprise me. Maybe we should stop calling them "parks" and start calling them "wilderness areas" to try and dispel that notion. In this instance, I do not see a case for this family. They were negligent when they set up their camp to not check for dead trees. Setting up a tent next to a widow maker had the predictable but catastrophic result. They have no one but themselves to blame.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: "Idaho family sues USFS for $1M after tree hit son" on 04/18/2013 18:38:27 MDT Print View

"The latter would not surprise me. Maybe we should stop calling them "parks" and start calling them 'wilderness areas'"

Better yet, lets change them from Parks into actual Wilderness Areas.

Robin Maley
(Options)
Legal nonsense on 05/03/2013 03:21:36 MDT Print View

If a tree falls in the forest ... does a lawyer hear it?

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: Health Care on 05/03/2013 10:34:47 MDT Print View

>> one of the consequences is that when situations lie this occur insuance companies require law suits to recoop their costs

+1

I broke an ankle while on a friend's boat and my insurance company harrassed me for a long time. They first seemingly casually asked for the name and address of the boat-owner and, when I refused to give it to them, they got aggressive about it, told me (threatened, really) that they may not pay for my medical care, etc. Basically told them to do what they had to do... and I'd do what I have to do. They called periodically with the same threats, sent me forms to fill out, etc. I just kept ignoring it. At some point, they stopped.