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Tree crash lawsuit yields $35K settlement

A couple living at a Kerby mobile home park will receive $35,000 as part of the settlement of a negligence lawsuit they filed against the park's owner after a tree fell on their home last year.

Verl Culver said it was just about getting dark Sept. 23, 2014, when a large conifer came crashing through the roof of the manufactured home he shares with his wife, Virginia, at the High Pines mobile home park, 24542 Redwood Highway.

"I was sitting in the chair watching TV and my wife went in the bathroom, and the tree fell right between the two of us," he said.

Culver said High Pines can be a rowdy place at times, and his first thought when he heard the crash was that one of his neighbors had accidentally driven a car into his home. He quickly realized that a tree had come through the roof. He called out to his wife.

The tree had crushed the ceiling in some spots.

"It demolished one side of the trailer," he said.

It also damaged his Chevrolet truck and his wife's Ford Focus, which were parked outside.

The tree had been struck by lightning about a year earlier, according to the lawsuit, which was filed against High Pines owner Michael Marshall in January. The suit alleged that the lightning strike damaged the tree's "structural integrity" and that management ignored tenants' requests to remove it.

Over the following days, the tree was removed and some plastic was put up to cover the hole in the roof.

The temporary patch-up job lasted through the winter, and the plastic is still in place, Culver said in a phone interview Thursday.

"If it had been a cold winter, I would have been hurting," Culver said.

Asked if he plans to make permanent repairs with the settlement money, Culver said he and his wife are looking to move out of the park.

"I've been here since '89 and this is actually the second tree limb that's fallen on my trailer," he said.

Mark Lansing, the attorney for the Culvers, said the settlement does not include attorneys fees, which are still being negotiated.

Of Marshall, the owner of the mobile home park, he said: "I sure hope he lives up to his landlord responsibilities in the future."

Marshall did not return a call for comment.

Reach reporter Melissa McRobbie at 541-474-3806 or mmcrobbie@thedailycourier.com