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Eagle Comments on Virginia High Court's Reversal on Tree Liability

Taking a new tack on the issue of homeowner liability involving trees, the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that homeowners can sue to force a neighbor to remove or prune a tree that poses a risk of harm or danger. Tree owners can now be held liable for damage caused by a tree.

Commenting in The Washington Post, property rights expert Professor Steven Eagle said, "This is the trend around the country, as we go from having arbitrary distinctions that made more sense in a rural economy. This is a better line of reasoning. The problem is, it probably will result in more litigation."

"Will there be people who will use this as a cudgel in a battle of spite against neighbors? Sure," he added.

Eagle's reasoning mirrors that of the justices, who ruled that while the old law made sense in a rural community, it was unsuited to present day issues of suburban sprawl and density.

Va. High Court Breaks New Ground on Tree Liability, The Washington Post, September 15, 2007. By Brigid Schulte.

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