Case Examples

Cases of consulting arborist / tree expert Ivan Katzer have included:


The owner of a nursery in southwestern Kansas sustained plant damage and plant loss resulting from the rupture of a hydraulic line on equipment working on his property. The wind dispersed the oil a considerable distance, coating the plants in oil and causing plant injury or plant death. I listed those plants that my investigation revealed to have been sufficiently damaged to affect their marketability. Purchasers of nursery and landscape plants will not accept or purchase plants having more than minimal cosmetic damage. Thus, this list represented the financial loss sustained by the owner.


Suit was brought against the County in a Kansas community by a landowner, seeking compensation for loss of scrub trees as a result of a taking for road and bridge improvement. I was retained by county. Based upon my investigation, I was able to show that the trees to be removed had no demonstrable effect on income (Income Approach); had no timber value and were not amenity trees (Cost Approach) and thus had no compensable value.


This property owner lived on a site that was surrounded on three sides by cropland. Prior to planting, the fields were sprayed with herbicide on a windy day, resulting in chemical drift off-site, killing or damaging landscape plants. I was able to establish a basis for equitable compensation to the owner for damage or loss of landscape trees and other plants as a result of chemical trespass.


Utility company wanted to know if their activity in replacing a faulted cable (horizontal boring) was the cause of the failure of a standing tree on a residential property. Based upon my investigation it was apparent that: 1. lack of a live, viable root system for anchorage and support (the tree had been dead for an unknown length of time); 2. past pruning practices that left the tree with no lower limbs for stability (the tree was "top-heavy"); and 3. high winds and saturated soil, all conspired to cause this tree to fail. The directional boring and new cable installation that occurred nearby had no direct or indirect influence on the tree failure.


The plaintiff claimed that utility arborists had improperly pruned of a row of hedge trees and other trees growing in close proximity to electric utility lines. She claimed a loss of aesthetic appeal and decline in tree health as a result. She filed a claim seeking reparation for damages and compensation for measures to restore tree health. My investigation revealed that pruning had conformed to accepted industry standards and that the ailing trees had been in poor health and declining for some time.


During the construction and development of a commercial office site, the developer removed a row of boundary-line trees that he felt detracted from the site. The adjoining property owner was a church that felt that the row of trees provided a measure of screening from the new development and sought compensation for their loss. I was able to determine a measure of value for this loss and the developer agreed to pay the church for damages and loss.


A homeowner contracted with a landscape contractor for the installation of new landscape beds and various ornamental trees and shrubs. When many of the plants failed to become established and thrive, the landscape contractor denied fault and refused to replace the dead and dying plants. My investigation determined that the contractor failed to properly prepare the planting site and did not plant according to accepted industry standards.


An upscale office park had been developed in an area surrounded by numerous trees and extensive landscaping. The trees provided a visual and acoustic barrier from the surrounding interstate highway and created an atmosphere of an office in the woods. The State Department of Transportation took away significant areas of the surrounding woods for highway construction. I was able to make an assessment of loss for use in negotiations for compensation.


A homeowner had occasionally employed the assistance of a worker to help with various odd jobs on several of his properties. One day he directed the worker to climb a ladder and cut off several branches hanging into the street. The worker fell from the ladder and suffered significant physical injury. The recovery process was long and the worker was unable to engage in regular physical activity. He had no source of income. My assignment was to reconstruct the accident and to determine the cause of the fall. It was determined that the work was carried out in a manner that did not comply with generally accepted standards of care and safety. While engaged in tree care activities on a ladder, OSHA standards require the individual be secured against a fall. The accident was preventable.


See this list of arborist issues in dispute resolution, including insurance claim investigation and litigation.