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Family sues USFS over 'obviously' dead tree that fell on their son.

Posted by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM
  • 6 Replies

 

 

 

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- An Idaho family has sued the U.S. Forest Service demanding more than $1 million after a large dead tree at a remote campsite fell and injured their young son.

Richard and Melinda Armstrong, of Caldwell, said their family was camping in the Boise National Forest in September 2010 when a gust of wind blew over the dead tree. It fell on their son, resulting in a large laceration, a compound fracture and a puncture wound in his back that impaired his breathing.

The boy, who was 6 at the time, was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Boise.

The couple said the Forest Service was negligent because it didn't remove the tree, which was a hazard. They're suing for more than $1 million in damages and emotional stress in federal court.

"The tree was clearly dead - had been dead for years - and was within eight feet of the fire ring, and within 48 feet of the Forest Service road," said Eric Rossman, their attorney in Boise, on Wednesday. "It was an obvious hazard."

Rossman said the Armstrong's son has undergone multiple surgeries and suffered "severe permanent impairment" of his leg.

The U.S. Forest Service didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

At issue is whether the federal agency had a responsibility to ensure that a site where people frequented and was near a public road was adequately protected from a potentially dangerous tree.

There have been similar lawsuits elsewhere, including an Oregon man who sued the Forest Service in 2010 after he was struck and injured by a tree while driving in his truck. That case was settled earlier this year and has been dismissed.

The Armstrongs' camping trip took them about 50 miles north of Boise, to a remote Forest Service road east of the hamlet of Ola in Gem County. They contend the place along Squaw Creek where they were overnighting was, in fact, a developed campsite, according to the Forest Service's definition.

But even if the campsite was not considered to be developed, according to their complaint, the improvements there, including a fire ring made of rocks, and the Forest Service's knowledge that it was a place where people camped regularly created a duty for the agency "to take immediate measures to inspect and remove the tree, close the site and/or warn user at the site of the serious risk of injury, death or property damage."

by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 11:35 AM
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Replies (1-6):
jehosoba84
by Jenn on Apr. 11, 2013 at 11:37 AM
1 mom liked this

 My first thought was...  If it's SO obviously dead, why did you decide to camp there?

My second thought was... You're camping people! It's not Disneyland, It's the woods. Things happen.

SWasson
by Bronze Member on Apr. 11, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Our national forests have dead trees, live trees, water, animals, places where there can be rock and mud slides, rain, snow, hail...it's called "nature," and you're supposed to use reasonable judgment to protect yourself from it, like, if there's a huge dead tree right next to a campsite, find a different one. 

LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Apr. 11, 2013 at 12:23 PM

If the boy was mauled by a bear in the woods, would the parents be suing because the bear was 'obviously a predator'?

Oh man.

stormcris
by Christy on Apr. 11, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Ok so we shall see if they can prove the tree was noticeably dead. 

gammie
by on Apr. 11, 2013 at 12:26 PM


first think I thought of why camp near it?

Quoting jehosoba84:

 My first thought was...  If it's SO obviously dead, why did you decide to camp there?

My second thought was... You're camping people! It's not Disneyland, It's the woods. Things happen.



kam013
by Silver Member on Apr. 11, 2013 at 12:28 PM

OMG, some things are just an ACCIDENT and no one is at fault.  

That concept is completely lost on this Sue-happy country we live in!

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