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premises liability



the case

Plaintiffs were at barbecue with family and friends in San Jacinto, California. It began drizzling and looked as though it was going to start raining, so the group of men that were sitting underneath a large tree got up and were walking towards the residence when a large tree branch broke and fell, striking two men and pinning them to the ground. One of the men was killed and the other sustained injuries, including  spinal fractures. The family of the deceased man brought a claim for wrongful death, and the injured man brought a claim for his personal injuries. Plaintiffs claimed that the owner of the property that the tree was located on were negligent because the  tree had been dead and dry for at least two years and the lessee of the property had requested that the property owner remove the dead tree. Defendant claimed that it was the lessee of the property that was responsible for maintaining the trees on the property under the terms of the property lease agreement. Defendant also asserted that she was not liable because on the date of the incident the wind was of such a violent and unprecedented nature as to qualify as an act of God such that no ordinary or reasonable amount of care would have prevented the damage, and the unforeseeable natural occurrence was the sole cause of the injury or damage. The case resolved for Defendant's insurance policy limits.

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