My neighbor cut down about a quarter of an acre of trees in the back of my property, a natural forested area - and said he thought the land was his. He has since acknowledged that the land is mine. I received an estimate of $25,000 from a local nursery to replant the area. My neighbor doesn't want to pay. Can I sue him for damages - what type of lawyer do I need?
2 Answers from Attorneys
There are specific Maine statutes that protect landowners from this type of damage. It is a form of Trespass, and causes a special type of damage since the land is unique and the same trees cannot be restored immediately. There is also the value of the stumpage that was taken. These statutes I refererence give added leverage to the aggrieved landowner by providing for the Trespassing party to pay for your legal fees, and also possible double the actual damage amount if the Trespass was intentional.
My office has handled many of these types of cases with good success. You would want a lawyer who has litigation experience. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss specifics. My website and contact info can be found at www.atrlaw.pro
Thank you for your inquiry. You clearly have a right to sue, and you are sure to recover damages. I have cut/pasted the relevant statutory language concerning the measure of damages including costs and fees, as there are different ways to approach your claim to maximize a recovery. I have handled this type of case, and would be happy to use my 26 years of experience to help you.
3.Measure of damages. This subsection governs the measurement of damages resulting from a violation of subsection 2.
A. When agricultural or forest products have been destroyed or carried away, the owner may recover as damages either the value of the lost products themselves or the diminution in value of the real estate as a whole resulting from the violation, whichever is greater. [ 1997, c. 214, § 1 (AMD) .]
B. For lost trees, the owner may claim in lieu of market value the forfeiture amounts determined in Title 17, section 2510, subsections 2 and 3. In addition, the owner's damages may include the costs for regeneration of the stand in accordance with Title 12, section 8869. The court may reduce the damages awarded for good cause shown when the cutting of trees was done negligently or without fault. [ 1999, c. 339, § 1 (AMD) .]
C. When a monument or marker has been disturbed, removed or destroyed as prohibited in subsection 2, paragraph C, the owner's damages may include the cost of engineering and surveyor services necessary to reestablish a monument or marker and its proper location. [ 1997, c. 214, § 1 (AMD) .]
[ 1999, c. 339, § 1 (AMD) .]
4.Damages recoverable. Damages are recoverable as follows.
A. A person who negligently or without fault violates subsection 2 is liable to the owner for 2 times the owner's damages as measured under subsection 3 or $250, whichever is greater. [ 1995, c. 585, § 3 (AMD) .]
B. A person who intentionally or knowingly violates subsection 2 is liable to the owner for 3 times the owner's damages as measured under subsection 3 or $500, whichever is greater. [ 1995, c. 585, § 3 (AMD) .]
C. In addition to the damages recoverable under paragraphs A and B, a person who violates subsection 2 is also liable to the owner for the costs the owner may incur if the violation results in a violation of any federal, state or local law or ordinance and, as a result, the owner becomes the subject of an enforcement proceeding. These costs include attorney's fees, costs and the value of the owner's time spent on involvement in the enforcement proceeding. [ 1995, c. 585, § 3 (NEW) .]
[ 1995, c. 585, § 3 (AMD) .]
5.Costs and fees. In addition to damages, interest and costs, the owner may also recover from the person who violates subsection 2 the reasonable costs of professional services necessary for determining damages and proving the claim, provided that the person first has written notice or actual knowledge that a claim is being asserted.
The amount awarded for professional services may not exceed 50% of the damages recovered pursuant to subsection 4 plus interest on the damages. Interest may be assessed after service of a notice of claim pursuant to section 1602.