February 24, 2020
California Civil Code section 3346 authorizes heightened damages for injury to trees. When the statute applies, the plaintiff may recover two or three times the actual harm.
The Supreme Court held unanimously that section 3346 does not apply to injury to trees caused by negligently spread fires. The court held that the statute applies only to direct, intentional injury to trees on the property of another typified by cutting down a neighbor’s trees. The court noted that applying the statute to damage from negligently spread fires could create enormous liability and would lead to the peculiar result that damage to trees would be valued more than damage to people.
For additional information contact Robert Wright, 818-995-0800, email@example.com.
[Disclosure: Horvitz & Levy filed an amicus curiae brief supporting Lambirth Trucking Co. in this matter]