Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Statutory Penalty for Cutting Trees
Mississippi has a statutory penalty for cutting trees at Mississippi Code Annotated 95-5-10. It allows for attorney's fees, expert fees, and expert fees. Ironically, one of the first successes I had as an attorney was representing a family friend in one of these disputes. The way the statute is written, all you have to show is that you own the trees and the other party cut them. Mistake is not a defense. It is for all practical purposes a strict liability tort. This was illustrated in Dobbs v. Crawford, et. al. located here that the Mississippi Court of Appeals decided yesterday. Mr. Dobbs raised a number of defenses but ultimately it came down to the Appellees owned the trees and he cut them. The Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of summary judgment. On a practical note, a few requests for admissions are just about all you need to get summary judgment on these type of cases. After that, it is just calculating damages which normally consists of stump counting and measuring. I still have vivid memories of doing this one winter on about a 10 acre track. It was utterly exhausting for myself and the defense attorney.