SAVANNAH, Ga. (CN) – Savannah, so proud of its giant live oaks it’s called the Forest City, faces a lawsuit from a woman who says she lost a leg when a giant oak branch fell on her.
Shanta Green claims in Chatham County Court that she lost her leg because Savannah failed to maintain its trees.
Her attorney, Howard Spiva, told the Savannah Morning News that reductions in the city’s park and tree staff have been so severe that the city is not able to monitor and maintain its trees.
Savannah is known for its scenic live oaks, its picturesque River Street and historic homes and cemeteries.
Majestic live oaks, with limbs draped in Spanish moss and ivy vines, are a big part of the city’s character and charm.
Savannah has been recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA since 1985, and has received Tree City USA Growth Awards eight times in the past nine years for its urban forest programs.
But on July 2, 2010, Greene says, she and her co-plaintiffs Louis Anderson and his son Xavier were driving in Anderson’s truck when a massive branch of a live oak snapped off, landing on the truck as it passed through an intersection.
Greene says the largest branch of the oak, 34 inches wide at its base, fell and “struck the pickup truck, penetrating its cab,” permanently disabling her and seriously injuring the Andersons.
Greene says the live oak by the intersection had a 46-inch diameter at about 4½ feet above the ground was structurally weak. She claims the vines, including English ivy, which grew up its trunk into its canopy, covered the tree’s branches and added to their weight. She says the branch that fell was too large for the tree, that the city knew or should have known it, but failed to remove or trim it.
“Prior to July 2, 2010, the City of Savannah was on notice that the live oak tree as described herein, constituted a dangerous condition within its right of way and was a danger to motorists and pedestrians traveling upon Bee Road,” the complaint states.
“Prior to July 2, 2010, the large live oak described herein had suffered at least one limb failure.”
Greene, who was 28 at the time, says her entire right leg needed to be amputated, and she also suffered injuries to her head, hip, iliac artery and internal organs. Her medical bills so far come to more than $786,000, according to the complaint.
The Savannah Morning News reported that Greene has had more than 40 surgeries since 2010, and she expects to incur at least $2 million more in medical bills.
The city denied Greene’s injury claim, saying there was no indication such an accident would happen.
Greene and her co-plaintiffs seek damages for personal injuries, mental and physical pain and suffering, past and future medical expenses, lost wages and property damage.
They are represented by Howard Spiva and C. Clay Davis.