Fallen eucalyptus tree along Pomerado Road in Scripps Ranch
On Tuesday, October 4, city councilmembers are expected to settle a 2015 lawsuit filed by Randy Edelbrock who in September 2014 was struck by a fallen eucalyptus tree at Barrio Logan's Chicano Park.
According to the San Diego Superior Court website, Edelbrock's case is currently stayed due to a conditional settlement.
In 2010 the city, faced with a mounting structural deficit, opted to trim the budget for tree maintenance. As reported by online news organization Voice of San Diego, the city cut its tree-maintenance budget by $900,000 from 2007 to 2010. A portion of those budget cuts, according to a January 2013 article in the Reader, has since been restored.
Edelbrock is not the only resident to sue the city in recent years for failing to care for dead trees in the public right-of-way.
During a powerful winter storm in January 2010, a large palm tree fell on Mission Hills resident Michael Burke, who was waiting outside for his friend to pick him up after a tree had fallen on his car. The falling tree crushed Burke's legs. In 2013, a San Diego Superior Court judge awarded Burke $7.5 million in damages.
The city, however, did prevail in a lawsuit from a woman who was allegedly injured after a branch from a eucalyptus tree fell on her during a walk in Mission Bay Park. The woman, Lorin Toeppe, sued the city for $25 million in damages. In October 2015, a judge dismissed the case, finding that the city should not be held responsible.
In Edelbrock's case, a falling eucalyptus struck him on September 8, 2014, while he was standing near the southeast corner of Chicano Park. The impact, according to the complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court, injured Edelbrock's nervous system, resulting in pain, loss of sleep, and loss of movement.
Edelbrock's attorneys argued that the city was aware of the dangerous tree and did nothing to prevent the accident.
Edelbrock sued for loss of wages, medical bills, and other damages. The amount of the settlement has not been made public.
On January 24, 2017, the city council is expected to finalize the settlement agreement with Edelbrock. The city has agreed to pay Edelbrock $75,000 for damages as well as attorney fees. The money will be paid out of the city’s Public Liability Fund.