City faulted in tree accident that left man paralyzed

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gavel-webSAN DIEGO — The city of San Diego was at fault for the condition of a nearly 60-foot palm tree that fell on a Mission Hills man nearly three years ago, crushing his legs and rendering him a paraplegic, a jury decided Monday.

After nearly three days of deliberations, the panel found that the 2,600-pound Queen Palm was in a “dangerous condition” when it fell on attorney Michael Burke on Jan. 21, 2010, following a four-day winter storm.

The jury also found that the city had notice of the tree’s condition with enough time to do something about it.

A second phase of the trial immediately got under way to determine the amount of damages that should be awarded to Burke and his wife, Edith. That portion of the trial is expected to last through the week.

Burke alleged the city of San Diego was responsible for the accident because it drastically cut back on yearly inspections and maintenance of trees.

City attorneys told the jury that the tree toppling was an “act of God” that could not have been foreseen. They said the city never received complaints about the condition of the tree before it fell.