Common Pleas Court Denies Summary Judgement in Fallen Tree Case

Date: June 1, 2007

On May 21, 2007, in Stoops v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Court of Common Pleas of Franklin County denied the Commonwealth\’s motion for summary judgment in a case involving a fallen tree. The facts of the case indicate that on July 18, 2001, the plaintiff, Robin Stoops, was traveling along a roadway that runs through the Michaux State Forest in Franklin County, Pennsylvania when a dead and decaying tree from the surrounding forest fell and struck his pickup truck causing him serious injury. Mr. Stoops sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources claiming that they were negligent in failing to remove the dead tree when they inspected the portion of forest before a road-widening project begun by a local township. The Commonwealth filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that Plaintiff\’s claim was barred by doctrine of sovereign immunity and that the Commonwealth did not have a duty to Plaintiff because it did not have notice of the dead tree.
The Common Pleas court has denied the Commonwealth\’s motion for summary judgment holding that the real estate exception to the Commonwealth\’s sovereign immunity applied in this case. The Court further held that the Commonwealth had a duty to Plaintiff and that whether the Commonwealth had actual or constructive notice of the dead tree was a question for the jury.

Thomas P. Cummings, Esq.

Joe Price
Attorney Joe Price is a seasoned Trial Lawyer serving Northeast, Central and Southeast Pennsylvania for the past forty (40) years. He has handled serious personal injury cases in courts throughout the Federal system including New Jersey and New York. Attorney Price is A.V. Rated by Martindale Hubble. He is Board Certified in Civil Practice by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1996.