Vawter v. West Coast Arborist
Plaintiffs alleged that on December 7, 2017, Frank Vawter (who was living out of his car), was parked adjacent to Holiday Park in the City of Carlsbad. Soon after Mr. Vawter exited his vehicle, a large tree limb landed on him and his vehicle, and he died as a result of the trauma sustained in the incident. The Plaintiffs were the decedent’s wife, Sally Vawter, their grown children, and the decedent’s grown children from a previous marriage.
Plaintiffs’ Complaint asserted a claim for negligence / wrongful death against City of Carlsbad as the owner and/or controller of the premises where the subject incident occurred. Plaintiffs subsequently added West Coast Arborists, a company providing tree maintenance services to Carlsbad. Plaintiff’s expert claimed that the tree had been “topped” years before and that the City and WCA should have known that it was dangerous and should have taken steps to eliminate the risk.
This was a seven-day bifurcated trial. The jury returned a defense verdict that the subject tree was not in dangerous condition at the time of the incident.