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I have a bamboo tree in my yard- about 10-12 years old. It

is an invasive type. I...
I have a bamboo tree in my yard- about 10-12 years old. It is an invasive type. I didn't realize this when I planted it- wasn't supposed to survive our MI winters. My neighbors are complaining it is growing in their yard. I did put a barrier up soon after planting it; but bamboo can grow around and under it. Can they take any legal action? I am going to have to cut it down. They are afraid their nephew might hurt himself on the growing stalks. They are soft when starting out and can be squashed. Neighbors are just aggravated by it. I can understand. Thank you.
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
5/2/2013
ScottyMacESQ
ScottyMacESQ, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,544
Experience: Licensed General Practice Attorney, Texas
Verified

ScottyMacESQ :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacESQ :

While they can take legal action against you, that doesn't mean that they can win. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. A lawsuit is merely a legal complaint. It does not require that the person be right when the suit is filed. That is what the judges are for: making determinations of law.

ScottyMacESQ :

It's possible that you could be liable for any actual damage that occurs. That is, if it ruins foundations, driveways, etc... of a neighbor, that could be encroachment that would make you liable. But you're not liable for potential harm.

ScottyMacESQ :

So while they can take you to court for bamboo that "may" hurt their child, that case would not be "ripe" (that is, they would not have a recognizable claim just yet, because they could not show actual damages.)

ScottyMacESQ :

Now if there's a city ordinance or HOA bylaw, or covenant, regarding these types of plants, they can take action based upon that.

ScottyMacESQ :

(without the need to show harm)

ScottyMacESQ :

But assuming that there is not, then they can't successfully sue you unless they can show actual, quantifiable and calculable harm.

ScottyMacESQ :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

ScottyMacESQ :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

Customer:

Hi. I will go to city hall to check if there's a bylaw. Could my neighbors say the nephew was hurt by these stalks; just to prove a point? i've noticed in the past ; they can be negligent on watching small kids in their yard. My opinion.

ScottyMacESQ :

They could say that he was hurt, but without proof as to the harm (pictures, doctors bills, etc...) it wouldn't be actionable (successfully)

ScottyMacESQ :

Again, they have to prove, quantifiably, the harm that was suffered. If the harm is not quantifiable and/or only "possible" (contingent) then it's not yet actionable, in that the case is not yet "ripe"

ScottyMacESQ :

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

ScottyMacESQ :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

Customer:

What do you mea "ripe"?

ScottyMacESQ :

 


I mean that to be able to sue you, they need to show that there's harm.


 

ScottyMacESQ :

They can't say that it "could" happen.

ScottyMacESQ :

They need to show that it has happened.

ScottyMacESQ :

And even then they would need to prove the harm that has occurred.

ScottyMacESQ :

"Ripeness" means that a case is ready to be heard. If there's no harm (yet) then the case is not "ripe".

Customer:

How could they prove it was the bamboo; and not other objects in their yard?

ScottyMacESQ :

I don't know. And that would be their burden of proof. You could certainly bring that up as a defense (that it was something else) but they ultimately would have to prove that it was the bamboo that caused the harm,.

ScottyMacESQ :

I hope that clears things up a bit. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

OK. What about it being in their yard; they are responsible to take care of it. Just like if a tree; shrub is hanging over; they can cut down any part hanging over their property.

ScottyMacESQ :

Yes, they can absolutely maintain it. But to the extent that the tree would have limbs fall on their property, you could be liable if you knew of the probability of that happening...

ScottyMacESQ :

They can remove the bamboo (or tree limbs, in a tree situation) but encroachment (particularly of roots, etc...) can still have liability on you if there's damage.

Customer:

I guess there is damage to their grass. Just that it is growing in their yard. What about the lilac stalks growing in my yard; from their tree? I hate this pettiness; but need to be civil with neighbors.

ScottyMacESQ :

I understand. Same thing applies... if there is damage, there could be action. Damage to grass is not "actionable", really, as it's not quantifiable.

Customer:

What do you mean quantifiable?

ScottyMacESQ :

Again, provable to a specific dollar figure. They can claim that they were "harmed" but when they ask for something, they need to prove that they're entitled to it.

ScottyMacESQ :

That is, they can ask for $10,000, but they would need to prove that they've been damaged $10,000.

ScottyMacESQ :

It needs to be quantified.

Customer:

Seems like to keep the peace; I need to get rid of it.

ScottyMacESQ :

I would. It's possible that some harm could happen, and in that situation, you could be liable (because it could then be proven)

Customer:

If I do cut it down; it's possible the growth could still continue in their yard; from the rhyzomes. Can they still sue; if I've taken every effort to get rid of it in my yard?

ScottyMacESQ :

It's possible, but if you've taken reasonable steps to mitigate the loss, it would be more difficult for them to sue successfully, because it would be harder for them to show negligence.

Customer:

This would be a small claims case?

ScottyMacESQ :

Most likely, if the amount claimed is under $5000.

Customer:

If it is over 5,000; then what type?

ScottyMacESQ :

Regular court.

ScottyMacESQ :

A court of general jurisdiction, that is, which requires a higher degree of evidence, procedure, and pleading.

Customer:

I should take photos?

ScottyMacESQ :

It would be a good idea to document the situation, should the need arise to prove it in the future.

Customer:

OK. Thanks so much for your advice. Interesting conversation.

ScottyMacESQ :

My pleasure. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (~ 45 minutes) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

Customer:

Thank you Scott.

ScottyMacESQ :

You're welcome, and again, good luck to you!

ScottyMacESQ :

Was there anything else before you rate this answer?

ScottyMacESQ :

It's vital that you rate it so that I get credit for the time that I spent with you today.

ScottyMacESQ :

(and I can't assist any other customers while I am with you...)

ScottyMacESQ :

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response.

ScottyMacESQ :

▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited and this question is closed out.

ScottyMacESQ :

Please respond. I am patiently waiting, but there are other customers that are awaiting an answer to their questions, and I only get credit for questions answered AND rated, not how long I spend on a question. I do not get paid for ANY time that I spent with you today if you don't rate this OK or higher.

ScottyMacESQ :

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

Customer:

I'm new to this. Sorry. How do I get a printout of this conversation?

ScottyMacESQ :

After you rate this answer, it will switch to a Q&A format (you may need to refresh the page after rating) at which point you'll be able to print this information.

Customer:

I rated it already; but I'll try it again

ScottyMacESQ :

Thank you. For whatever reason it did not register the first time. Again, once you click the rating button, If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes, and I was with you for about an hour) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX luck to you!

ScottyMacESQ
ScottyMacESQ, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 17,544
Experience: Licensed General Practice Attorney, Texas
Verified
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Satisfied Customers: 17,544
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Experience: Licensed General Practice Attorney, Texas

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The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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