The District of North Vancouver is facing a lawsuit after a resident claimed the municipality’s negligence contributed to a tree that toppled and left him with multiple skull fractures.
Environmental consultant Francois Landry was near the entrance of Seymour River Heritage Park on Aug. 29, 2015, when a tree in a “weakened state” fell and landed on him, according to Landry’s civil claim, which was recently filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
The impact fractured Landry’s skull, orbital bones and nose, requiring surgery. He also sustained an injury to his brain, and continues to suffer from headaches as well as arthritis, according to the claim.
The injuries have diminished Landry’s enjoyment of life and left him with “permanent partial disability,” the claim stated.
Those long-term effects were caused by the District of North Vancouver’s failure to take reasonable steps to monitor the trees along Heritage Park Lane, according to Landry’s claim.
By failing to regularly inspect and examine the trees, the District of North Vancouver put Landry at risk of injury from a tree which, “the defendant knew or ought to have known posed a danger,” according to Landry’s claim.
Besides neglecting to ensure the trees were maintained “in a reasonably safe condition,” the district also failed to post an adequate warning related to the hazardous condition of the trees, according to the claim.
Landry is asking the court to award him damages for: “pain and suffering and for the loss of function and loss of enjoyment of life.” His claim also requests compensation to make up for the work he missed as a result of his injuries as well as a “permanent diminishment” in his earning capacity. Landry is requesting reimbursement for medical expenses associated with prescription drugs and hospitalization, as well as other costs.
Legally, Landry’s case hinges on the “common law of negligence and the common law of damages,” according to the claim.
The district “has responsibility for Heritage Park Lane and the trees and plant growth in and around it,” according to the claim.
The District of North Vancouver has not yet responded to the claim.
As a general guideline, district policy is to preserve trees while minimizing the risk to the public and property.
If a resident reports a tree on district property as being hazardous, district arborists inspect the trees and mitigate the dangers accordingly.
If the resident disagrees with the arborist’s conclusions, they can pay to get a second opinion from another qualified arborist. That second opinion will be reviewed but final decision rests with district staff.