Neighborly argument over a fallen tree
Recently we had a small wind storm in Las Vegas and so it happened that a tree growing on our property line has fallen onto our neighbor’s car. We didn’t find any damage on the car and we brought in our licensed landscapers to remove the tree, but the neighbor stopped them, demanding that we use a crane to lift the tree off the car. My wife called the neighbor, Gary, to discuss how we can help, but the neighbor started yelling at her, insulting her, claiming that the tree is solely ours (not true) and threatening with a $125K lawsuit, again demanding that we use a crane to lift the tree off the car. Finally I personally went to chat with the neighbor and again offered to remove the tree, but was also called names, insulted and threatened with $125K lawsuit for some type of damages and emotional distress. I also noticed a sign on the tree stating “No one touches this tree.” It was safe to assume the neighbor didn’t have comprehensive (or any) insurance for his car, as he was working on it in his driveway.
Finally we’ve invited our home insurance agent to take a look and he confirmed that the tree was growing on our common property line and belongs to both us and the neighbor, while no one is liable for acts of nature. At the same time he met neighbor’s wife who was also rude and said they’re waiting for an attorney to handle this.
This was enough for me to see who I am dealing with and I decided to write a friendly letter to the neighbor, which I want to share with anyone who may find themselves in similar situation. Here is that letter:
To: Mr. Gary
Dear wonderful neighbor,
It was great pleasure to have an opportunity to chat with you this past Saturday.
I was little disappointed that you called me dumb and my wife a professional liar, but I understand that you want to intimidate and make others look bad so that you look like an honest, reasonable, and responsible citizen. However, I assume that you don’t just want to look like that, but that you actually strive to be honest, act responsibly, and better yourself.
It is also my understanding that a small tree that was growing on our common property line was recently uprooted by a wind storm and fell onto your beautiful classic, partially painted show vehicle, possibly causing scratches to some of the car’s paint. I am only glad that you weren’t hurt and that a much larger tree didn’t completely crush your car or your house.
It is also my understanding that you are a smart and reasonable person who understands that if 1000 trees would fall onto your house or car during a storm, earthquake or other natural event, you would not be suing the wind or earthquake, or going door to door trying to figure out which tree belongs to whom, or telling each neighbor that they are liable for their trees falling on your property. In the same way I assume your neighbors won’t call you dumb or complain to you for any storm or earthquake damage to their property, even if parts of your property would end up on theirs. All of us insure our properties specifically for such events and all of us are responsible for taking care and cleaning up our properties, which I recommend you do promptly.
I am always supportive of my neighbors and, although you didn’t allow my professional and licensed landscaping company to remove the tree, I did obtain for you a few quotes for tree removal service from several other professional and licensed local companies. Quotes range from $175 to $250. As an act of goodwill I am offering to cover half of those costs, up to $100, once you remove the poor little fallen tree from your property and sign the enclosed apology letter (Appendix A). You can mail the letter to the following address: (my address).
Should your insurance company want to reach me, I am providing my telephone number below.
I, Mr. Gary (last name), sincerely apologize to Mr. Konrad Musial and his wife for insulting them and I promise to become the best behaved and friendliest neighbor in the neighborhood. I understand that being polite, friendly, and helpful is in the best interest of our community.
I do recognize that a tree falling onto my property is not anyone’s fault and I appreciate Mr. Musial’s financial help in the amount of $100 for removing the fallen tree from my property.
I hereby certify that now I’ve removed the fallen tree from my property.
At the same time, I withdraw and abandon any claims of wrongdoing towards Mr. Musial or any other property owner(s) who the fallen tree might have belonged to, including myself.