Old Billy Was Right…

24 Nov

     Just another Hurricane Sandy story to report:

     My tree went down in the storm. It was one of those trees that was not so much big around as it was voluminous in its growth. It always had a branch going this way or that and they would seemingly sprout and grow like Jack’s Beanstalk each Spring.

Anyway, it would always drop a branch or two in a storm, but Hurricane Sandy took it and shook it like an angry giant avenging his lost goose and deposited it very nicely over my neighbors shed and rear yard while also destroying my fence in the process…you know, the good fence that had made those ogres in my back yard such good neighbors for all these years.

So long story short, within 2 weeks of the worst hurricane to ever hit the New Jersey shore in the history of shores and New Jersey, my ogreish neighbors, with the speed of summer lightning, hired a lawyer threatening to sue me if I did not promptly remove the tree and its unsightly debris!

Wow! I needn’t tell you that I was amazed. Trees had fallen all over the eastern seaboard. Some even killing innocent bystanders while others tore through houses and wrecked havoc on homesteads great and small, not to mention the other billions of dollars in flood and wind damage that had devastated the area. Contractors and electricians and police and fire rescuers had been working non stop to help those in need. There was so much to be done and so few available to help that a disaster triage system had to be put into place to determine who was in the most need of relief services…and yet my “neighbors” had found a “lawyer” to draft a threatening letter and send it in the space of 16 days when 6 of those days had been without electricity and power of any kind. And all for a downed tree in the remote corner of a back yard at the end of October with nary an innocent bystander nor lawn furniture to be seen laying under it.

Of course I had every intention of removing it and even felt that it was my responsibility for doing so since it was my tree that had fallen into their yard and I responded in kind to their lawyer and forwarded a copy to our township’s lawyer for good measure just to see if I could get a legal opinion to chime in on my side.

And I did…sort of…except that the township’s lawyer who works for the town, I presume, which is also the same town that we all (neighbor, lawyer, myself) live in couldn’t (wouldn’t?) offer any specific advice as to the legality of one resident’s claim over another or the legal responsibility for removal of trees and debris from yards and such. And why is that? Are we not township residents? Be he not the township’s lawyer? Doth we not payeth the taxes?

Apparently (and this is me presuming now) without any fees being involved or lawyers being specifically hired to render such opinions none would be forthcoming because that’s how lawyers make money isn’t it?

 Anyway, I find a tree service. They chop and remove the tree. I pay the bill and then send the claim over to my insurance company. And that’s when a nice lady, not a lawyer, but just a common working person just like you and me tells me

“It is unfortunate that your neighbor is so un-neighborly.  I can tell you that your legal obligation to remove a tree from your neighbor’s yard does NOT exist unless you have been negligent, which would create liability. In the case of trees, the only time where there’s negligence is if you have let a dangerous condition to exist without  doing your duty to correct it in a timely fashion. That would mean the tree was dead, sick, or dying and in clear need of being removed prior to when the storm hit.  Most insurance companies would require proof of written notice by the neighbor before they accept any liability on the part of their insured.So you can feel free to send your neighbor a bill for the part of the  tree removal that was specifically from their property.  It’s their responsibility, not yours. No matter what their attorney says.”

Gee, wouldn’t you have thought that one of those nice well schooled lawyers could have told both my neighbor and me that in the first place? Especially the one that our township employs and pays with our tax money? Of course now all of this misinformation or lack thereof from the lawyers involved might generate a nice law suit between angry neighbors. Wouldn’t that be a nice chunk of change for a lawyer or two looking for a job?

What I hate about lawyers is that they seem to make it a point to never tell you anything that can be useful and they always treat the truth as though it were a commodity to be leveraged, bought and sold and/or manipulated for profit. It seems that the more lawyers we get in this world the less truth we have available to help us figure out what’s going on.

43% of all Congressmen are lawyers while 47% are millionaires. These statistics may also explain why, when it comes to the government, it’s so hard to find out what exactly is going on these days.

Sadly though, I had to get my truth from an insurance company of all places!

And even more sadly, if only my tree had been destroyed by volcanic ash (IN NEW JERSEY!!!???) I wouldn’t have had to pay my policy’s deductible!

Undoubtedly a lawyer put that in the policy just for kicks.

Yep, Old Billy was right…

Moral of the story? Get a good education and learn as much as you can about everything that you can! The truth may set you free but unfortunately it may only be available for a fee.

12 Responses to “Old Billy Was Right…”

  1. John November 24, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Holy crap, I am sorry you live near these morons. I moved several years ago due to my neighbor being such an (add expletive). Interested to hear what happens with this. What happened to these folks to make them so hateful… I feel sorry for them.

  2. samuel13208 November 24, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Ahh yes. Life’s lessons. Oft times, a simple letter from a lawyer is enough to get a matter corrected, in your favor. A call to your insurance company or waiting for the insurance to give you a quote of the damage might have helped. Insurances know these things. After all, they don’t want to pay either if they don’t have to. You can bet insurance companies make sure their personnel are on top of the laws that effect their business. Of course, we, as lay person’s wouldn’t have a clue. However, that was very responsible and civil minded of you to feel the way you did and to do what you did. You should be proud of yourself. I know you will do well, and recover from your losses. God speed.

    • gpicone November 25, 2012 at 12:27 am #

      Thanks for your comment and thoughts. My main frustration was with the 2 lawyers that I had contact with. I am sure that they both knew what the law was and what the responsibilities of both home owners were however, they did not tell either one of us. Why did they behave in that way?

      • samuel13208 November 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm #


        Yeah. Good question. I don’t know, but I’m with you. I would have thought a little more help would have been forth coming. All I can think of is that everyone was and probably still is overwhelmed with the massiveness of it all.

        Oh, did you hear in the news, that the city (I think it was the city) put notices on peoples doors to clean up the mess, or else …??
        That added insult to injury. They later said that nothing was going to be done, that it was for statistical purposes. If I remember the news correctly. Good grief.

  3. Joryn Jenkins November 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    While I agree that your neighbors are ogres, perhaps,before you case aspersions at all lawyers, you should have consulted one yourself.

    • gpicone November 25, 2012 at 12:21 am #

      I did! I consulted the twp. attorney who wouldn’t tell me what the twp, laws and ordinances required!

  4. Robert-preneur November 25, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    I hope things are returning to some normalcy for all of you. I haven’t heard much in the news about New Jersey’s recovery. How are things going in your area?

  5. cliffharrison November 25, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    You ought to recopy the post into a Letter-to-the-editor of you local newspaper and mention their kind public servant of a lawyer AND your neighbor by name. They can’t sue you for libel or slander if it is true, well they can try, but they won’t win.

  6. mike olley November 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Shame on your neighbours. Shame on their lawyer. It’s sad that they are happy living that way.

  7. geneb527 November 26, 2012 at 1:43 am #

    I assume when referring to old Billy you mean William Shakespeare when he said “the first thing I would do is kill all the lawyers.” What a grand idea!

  8. davemanic November 26, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    How unfortunate! Certainly lawyers seem to focus on whatever’s most profitable at the time. I’m sure the township attorney was overwhelmed, but matters of property and liability should have been on his speed dial, considering the situation, or at least forward your concerns to an insurance agent!

  9. brennapearce November 26, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Great storytelling, and a lesson taught well. Thanks!

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