What is my recourse if loggers did property damage and left the low value logs in my driveway?

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What is my recourse if loggers did property damage and left the low value logs in my driveway?

I have 2 problems with the same contractor. I hired a logger to remove about 40 trees from my property. The contract was for cash and he kept the trees.

1st problem. He dropped one of the trees in my hobby orchard crushing 2 of my trees. One of them was a mature consistent producer. I have contacted multiple orchards and nursery’s to find the value of the trees and no one has been able to tell me. They can not be replaced as is. Anything I put there will take 5-7 years before it starts producing again. How do I assign value if I have to sue? Also, he took all the logs he could sell easily and has left a large stack of relatively worthless logs in my driveway. Winter is coming and I need them gone before it snows. He’s not returning phone calls or answering texts. When am I justified in disposing of them and can I hold him responsible for the cost?

Asked on October 24, 2018 under Business Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Regarding the peach tree: a reasonable way to approximate the value is the cost of new young tree and the peaches you'd have to buy (not harvest) for the next 5 - 7 years until it matures. That is an amount you could seek from him for his negligent or careless destruction of the tree.
2) Regarding the taken logs: if the agreement did not require him to leave the logs for you, he was free to take them--normally, when someone is hired to remove trees, part of the job is taking them from the property. If he's going to take them, he can do with them as he likes.
3) Regarding the logs left behind: this is the opposite of the above; since normally part of the tree removal contract is removing the logs, by failing to remove them, he breached the agreement (whether writtten or oral/unwritten) in regards to his work. You could sue him for breach of contract for the cost to remove them. First send him something in writing, sent someway you can prove delivery, stating that he is in breach of the agreement if he does not remove these (the fact that he took the other logs can be referenced to show that removal was part of the agreement) and you will dispose of them and seek the disposal cost from him, including by lawsuit if necessary, unless he removes them in the next five (5) business days following receipt of the letter. Then if he doesn't, arrange for their removal, send him the bill, and then sue him (e.g. in small claims court, "pro se" or as your own attorney) if necessary.


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