MAN HIT IN HEAD WITH BRANCH; TREE LAWSUITS PROVE COSTLY TO CITY

A 46-year-old man was hit in the head by a falling tree branch around Central Park West and 96th street on Monday morning. The man was transported to Roosevelt Hospital with minor injuries, an FDNY spokesman told us. NYC Parks Advocates, which reports news about city parks, reported that a large branch (about 18 inches in diameter) fell in the same location yesterday, but didn’t hit anyone. The city parks department did not respond to a request for comment about the incident and whether the city plans to prune the tree.

The Post reported this weekend that the city has been settling some of the lawsuits brought by the families of people who were hit by tree branches in the past few years. The family of 37-year-old Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, who was hit by a tree limb in Central Park in July 2009 while on his way to work, won an $11.5 million settlement, the Post reported. An arborist had said the limb should be removed 20 days before the incident, but it did not get removed immediately. It was one of four similar incidents that occurred in Central Park in less than a year.

A 6-month-old girl, Gianna Marie Ricciutti, was killed in June 2010 and her parents have sued for $50 million. Their case is set for mediation next month, the Post said.

Two other incidents have resulted in payouts: “In April, the city agreed to pay $3 million to the family of Elmaz Qyra, who was killed in February 2010. Last week, Queens resident Roberta Colores-Martinez reached a $750,000 settlement — the city will pay $100,000 of that, two private tree companies will pay the rest — for a May 2010 skull fracture.”

The Times ran a series last year on the issue of falling tree branches in city parks, noting that “The budget to trim them has dropped to $1.45 million from $4.7 million in the last five years.” Funding for branch removal has recently increased.

Photo of trees in Central Park by robnguyen01.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 2 comments | permalink
    1. Why? says:

      Why are we paying for what are simply natural accidents?

    2. Christine says:

      From looking at the pictures of these trees, and from walks in the park, I can tell you that they have been trimmed incorrectly. Notice that all the inner breaches have been removed. This leaves what some call a ‘tiger’s tail’ at the end. When it is windy the tree branch gets blown around by the leaf heavy end and causes undue stress on the branch.

      Proper trimming of a tree should actually look more like a tree that has never been trimmed. I learned all these things in hurricane prone Florida where proper tree trimming can also save lives.

      Where is the Comservancy in all of this?