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Neighbor's Tree Limbs Ruined My Fence

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Oddball2, Apr 17, 2008.

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  1. Oddball2

    Oddball2 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    There was an ice storm in my area in late February and part of an oak tree on an adjacent lot cracked off, fell on and crushed part of my fence. I'd like to know who is responsible for replacing the fence.

    I photographed the icy limbs on top of the fence the day it happened, and called the owner of the adjacent property later on. I'd been told that he's a very nice man. He said he would take a look at the damage and get back to me within a few days. Well he never did call back, so finally I called him, today.

    He says that he is not responsible for the damage - for all of the following reasons:

    a.) It was an "act of God".
    b.) It took me a long time to put up the fence in the first place.
    c.) His tenant told him that I traded another neighbor for the roll of wire (I suppose he thinks that means I don't own it and it has no value).
    d.) Even if he is responsible, it's only for "a few feet" where the damage is.
    e.) The damage is "not serious", and I should just straighten out the bends and splice together the ripped sections.

    My side of the story:

    This type of fencing comes in rolls, not sections, and if part of a roll is damaged, you have to cut it off. In this case, cutting off the damaged section would leave me with two short pieces, but there's no easy way to splice sections together (which is why it comes in 50' and 100' rolls in the first place). The fence line in question is about 90' long, and more than half of it is damaged beyond repair. The damage is in the middle of the line.

    When a dead tree on my land fell onto a neighbor's fence on the other side, I fixed it voluntarily because I thought it was the right thing to do. It hurt, because I live on a very small fixed income, but I didn't want a neighbor angry with me. This guy doesn't live on the property and isn't a neighbor.

    His tenant prefers the grass in the yard to stay under 1/2" high and I like to let it grow to 3-4" between cuts. She thinks that's long enough to give cover to poisonous snakes. Here in the center of town I rarely even see a small garden snake, yet this woman takes the liberty of spraying herbicide into my property and killing the vegetation. I'd like to plant some bushes next to the fence (if I can find a way to keep her from spraying them to death) and it's that time of year - plant now, or it will be too hot until next spring. But I can do nothing until I get the fence fixed.

    I'd like to just suck it up, but on my income it's a real challenge to even keep myself fed. Small claims court is probably not the best option here (if indeed I have a case), as the property owner is a former county commissioner and buddy-buddy with the judges. In some towns that wouldn't be as much of an obstacle as it is here....

    The whole cost of the wire is only about $85, which is pocket change to this fellow but a huge amount to me. Also huge to me is the effort involved in doing the work. I can't afford to hire a handyman and don't want to impose on friends, they have their hands full as it is, so it takes me a very long time to due to my physical limitations.

    I can't do without a fence.... people in this area let their dogs run loose. It's against the law, but nobody complains (it doesn't help, the dogcatcher here is a laggard). If you don't want to have to clean up dog poop all the time, and if you don't want your garden torn up, you take preventive measures. A vegetable garden is becoming more of a necessity for me every day, so I've got to find a way to solve this matter.

    If it helps, I'm in Missouri. Thanks in advance for all suggestions and info!

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