DR. LOKANATHAN IYER AND SHUSHANTA IYER v. DR. SCOTT WETSTONE AND MARY-LEE LABAY WETSTONE; AND VICTOR DELL D/B/A NORWEST TREE EXPERTS
Trial Date: January 28, 2013 (2-week trial)
TOPIC: TIMBER TRESPASS; UNJUST ENRICHMENT–*SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Result: PLAINTIFF VERDICT for $255,880 against Defendants Wetstone. Plaintiffs also received a verdict against Norwest Tree Experts for less than $1,200. Norwest Tree Experts received a verdict against Defendants Wetstone of approximately $60,000. *Summary Judgment – Consumer Protection Act claims against NW Tree Experts were dismissed on summary judgment.
Bob Layton (Arborist) Kirkland; Graham Albertini (Real Estate Appraiser) Mercer Island; William “Shupe” Holburg (Surveyor) Issaquah
Peter Blasett (Arborist) Everett; Nancy Lathom (Arborist) Snohomish; Victor Dell (Arborist) Bellevue; Stephen Schneider (Landscape Architect) Redmond; Robert Chamberlin (Real Estate Appraiser) Bellevue
Plaintiff: John L. O’Brien of O’Brien, Barton & Hopkins (Issaquah)
Defendant: David Jensen of Merrick Hofsted & Lindsey for Def. Wetstone; Stacia Hofmann, Law Office of Andrea Holburn Bernarding for Def. NW Tree Experts (both Seattle)
TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Catherine Shaffer
MEDIATOR: Larry Levy (first); Harry Goldman (second)
COUNTY: King County
INJURIES: ECONOMIC DAMAGES; EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Economic damages; emotional distress.
Specials: Property Damage $36,800 in tree value.
Demand: $125,000. Plaintiff asked the jury for $36,800 for the value of the trees, $110,400 for three times the value of the trees, $100,000 for Unjust Enrichment for enhanced value of defendants’ real estate and no specific amount for non-economic damages.
Offer: $40,000. Def. Wetstone asked the jury for $4,200 for the tree value, nothing for Unjust Enrichment and $20,000 in non-economic damages. Def. Norwest Tree Experts asked the jury for a defense verdict on liability for Plaintiffs’ claims and approx. $60,000 in attorney fees and costs against Defendants Wetstone on the indemnification cross claim.
4/7/11 – Defendants Wetstone are uphill neighbors of plaintiffs and share a Native Growth Protection Easement between their properties. The Wetstones hired Norwest Tree Experts to cut down trees on their property. Two of the trees, a 90 foot tall Douglas Fir and an 85 foot Maple tree were in the Native Growth Protection Easement and on plaintiffs’’ property. On the morning of the tree cutting, plaintiff heard chainsaws in his back yard and told the lumberjacks from Norwest Tree Experts that they were cutting down his trees. Lumberjacks told plaintiff they had a permit from the City of Bellevue to cut the trees which was untrue. Scott Wetstone came out of his house and was told that the lumberjacks were on plaintiffs’ property. Defendant Wetstone instructed the lumberjacks to complete the tree cutting despite plaintiffs’ protests, which they did. Plaintiffs sued the defendants for three times the value of the trees for willful tree trespass, emotional distress and unjust enrichment, alleging that the removal of the trees enhanced the value of the Wetstone home by opening up a view corridor for their home in the Summit Ridge neighborhood of Bellevue, Washington. Defendant Norwest cross claimed against Defenant Wetstone for indemnification.