Trees Cut Down Damages Claim
The appropriate measure of damages is the diminution in value of the property as a result of the taking of trees:
In First National Bank of Des Plaines v. Amco Engineering Co. (1975), 32 Ill. App. 3d 451, 335 N.E.2d 591 (2nd Dist.) plaintiff contended that the proper measure of damages for the wrongful removal of trees was the cost of replacing the trees or the cost of restoring the property to a reasonable approximation of its condition prior to the trespass.
Defendants maintained that the measure of damages is depreciation of the value of the realty due to the removal. the First National Bank of Des Plaines court stated that, "As a general rule, the measure of damages for injury to realty is the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the injury to the premises." (335 N.E.2d at 593).
The Court, citing Rogers v. Enzinger, noted that the general rule has been applied to the destruction of ornamental or shade trees.
The First National Bank of Des Plaines court made a further observation. the Court stated that:
"Where the property injured, although part of realty, has a value which can be accurately determined without reference to the freehold, the recovery may be for the property in its severed condition and not for the difference in the value of the land before and after the defendant's misconduct.
Other jurisdictions, in dispensing justice between the parties allow the reasonable cost of replacing the trees or for the reasonable cost of restoring the property to approximate, as near as possible, its original condition. (Citation omitted.) This, it would seem is the more equitable rule, but Illinois law has not, to date, recognized such rule." Id. at 593.
In Roark v. Musgrave(1976), 41 Ill. App. 3d 1008, 355 N.E.2d 91 (5th Dist.) the Court upheld the trial court's order where plaintiff was awarded damages for defendant's wrongful cutting and removal of trees from plaintiff's land.
The plaintiff presented evidence of damages that indicated the depreciation in the value of the property but did not utilize the method of establishing the difference between the fair market value of the land before and after the injury. the Roark expert testified to net loss without determining the fair market value of the property. the Roark court stated:
"So-called 'rules' as to the proper measure of damages in a particular type of case are guides only, and should not be applied in an arbitrary, formulaic, or inflexible manner.