Another tale of illegal cuts
I shook my head with disgust when I read the article about the
“predatory contractor.” I had a similar fiasco when I moved into this area almost six years ago.
The owner of the lots above my 7.62-acre sloped parcel decided to sell his lot at the time I bought my property. He harvested 46 of my trees, sold them, and obtained an incomparable view of the Yuba canyon and Sierra Buttes. He sold his lot for top dollars. (My southeast property marker had been removed and my southwest marker had been moved 60 feet downhill. These markers had been intact two years previously, as testified by the surveyor when he had been hired at that time because of a “vanishing” oak. I hired him to re-survey my property.)
I hired a lawyer, and Allan Haley was the arbitrator. His judgment was for double stumpage, survey fees and $1,250, towards restoration of the land, estimated to be 0.7 acre.
What a laugh. The settlement didn’t even cover my attorney fees, I’m over $4,000 in debt, and I don’t get any money for the trees that were stolen. And there was no question that a trespass was involved. To make it worse, the forester and the surveyor both agreed that this happens in over half of the cases similar to mine.
Sure, I could have demanded a jury trial, but juries are unpredictable. (A case in point: O.J. Simpson.) Also my attorney fees would have escalated. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve provided employment for a lawyer, a forester and a surveyor, and I got royally screwed. (I bet “60 Minutes” or “20-20” would have a ball with this one …)
The law needs to protect the innocent. My litigation fees should have been part of the settlement – otherwise, the law is enabling criminal activity. If the law stated that my litigation fees were to have been included in the settlement, you better believe that the trespasser would have been discouraged.
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