UNNAMED PLAINITFF v. MICHAEL BILIKAS & RONALD COLEMAN
TRIAL DATE: JUNE 6TH, 2016
TOPIC: TREE TRESPASS – EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Result: $72,500.00 settlement on morning of trial.
Bob Layton (Arborist) Kirkland; Steve McCaskey, Encompass (Surveyor); Graham Albertini, American Home Appraisals (MAI Appraiser)
Galen M. Wright (Arborist) Olympia
Plaintiff: John L. O’Brien of O’Brien, Barton & Hopkins (Issaquah)
Defendants: Max G. Nicolai of Sweeney, Heit & Dietzler (Seattle)
TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Mary Roberts
MEDIATOR: Patrick Duffy (W.A.M.S.)
COUNTY: King County
INJURIES: ECONOMIC DAMAGES; EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Specials: Property damage $13,800 in tree value
Mediation Settlement Proposals: Demand $100,000 – Offer $20,000
Plaintiff resides in the Upland Terrace neighborhood of South Seattle overlooking Seward Park. His home, purchased in 1994, sits at the top of a .75 acre lot with a steep slope designated as an Environmentally Critical Area by Seattle city ordinance. The hillside is home to over 100 trees. A majority of the trees have been personally planted and cared for by the plaintiff over the past 22 years. The plaintiff spends his leisure time caring for the trees and gardens he has developed on his property that truly can be considered his private arboretum. Michael Bilikas resides in a neighborhood below the plaintiff’s property. In December of 2014, Michael Bilikas decided that the alley to his driveway was not wide enough to get him to the back of his house, three lots South of the plaintiff’s property. Michael Bilikas engaged the services of Ronald Coleman, an unlicensed, unbonded, construction worker from Port Orchard, to bring an excavator and gravel to the alley. Michael Bilikas instructed Mr. Coleman to level and clear approximately 881 square feet of the plaintiff’s naturally sloping hill abutting the road (already on the plaintiff’s property) and remove 3 Alder trees, approximately fifty to sixty feet tall from the plaintiff’s land. Mr. Coleman did not use a chain saw to cut down the Alders. He used his excavator to push over the trees, felling them to the West and deeper into the plaintiff’s property. Behind the Alders were 14 of the trees that the plaintiff had personally planted and cared for over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, the weight, width and crowns of the large Alders crushed and destroyed the personally planted Pines, Dogwoods, Cedars and Firs behind the Alders when they came down. Defendant Bilikas denied that he instructed Coleman to destroy the trees and that Coleman went further than what he was ordered to accomplish. Coleman filed bankruptcy two weeks before trial.