What Is The Proper Amount Of Damages For Removing Six Trees From A Neighbor’s Property: $436,750 Or $20,000?

If you guessed the latter, then you are in agreement with the Appellate Division’s ruling in Mosteller v. Naiman, ___ N.J. Super. ___ (App. Div. 2010).  The plaintiff sued the defendant after she removed six trees which she thought were on her property but really were on the plaintiff’s property.  The plaintiff argued that he should be awarded the full replacement costs of the trees, which he estimated to be $436,750, while the defendant asserted the proper measure of damages was the difference between the estimated fair market value of the plaintiff’s property before the trees were removed and after they were removed.  After the trial court agreed with the defendant’s position, the parties entered a provisional consent judgment in the amount of $20,000, which was apparently based at least in part on the defendant’s expert report that estimated that the reduction in the fair market value of the property as a result of the removal of the trees was between $0 and $20,000.  The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s application of the diminution-of-market value approach.

via porzioappeallaw.pbnlaw.com

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