City Pays Millions to Settle Claims Over Rotting Trees

In one 2007 case cited by the Times, a huge tree limb fell 30 feet onto 29-year-old social worker Alexis Handwerker

Monday, May 14, 2012  |  Updated 9:21 AM EDT
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The city pays millions of dollars in damage claims to settle lawsuits stemming from falling tree limbs that cause injury or death.      

The New York Times reports that the city's system of inspecting trees is overstretched.      

In one 2007 case cited by the Times, a huge tree limb fell 30 feet onto 29-year-old social worker Alexis Handwerker. She survived with serious injuries.      

Handwerker's lawyers said untrained parks workers had missed signs that the elm was rotting --even though the 80-foot tree had sent limbs crashing down before. The city settled in February, paying $4 million.      

City lawyers have denied blame in what they call tragic accidents. They say the city is not required to regularly conduct state-of-the-art inspections to determine whether trees are rotting or disease-ridden. 

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