Torts II, Pages 501–502

Taylor v. Olsen

Supreme Court of Oregon, May 16, 1978

Facts:

Plaintiff crashed into a tree that had fallen into the busy road she was driving on. She sued defendants, who owned the land where it had grown.

Procedural History:

The trial court directed verdicts for defendants.

Issue:

Was defendant liable for a tree on his land falling into the road?

Rules:

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 501, Paragraph 2

    [E]xcept for extreme situations, the question of the landowner's or possessor's attention to the condition of his roadside trees under a general standard of "reasonable care to prevent an unreasonable risk of harm" is to be decided as a question of fact upon the circumstances of the individual case.

  • To determine duty a tree-owner owes people on adjoining highways and sidewalks must be determined by factor balancing of patterns of land use, road use, traffic density, and whether it is a rural or urban setting.

Reasoning:

It was defendant's duty to take reasonable care to inspect the trees, but there was no visible rotting on the outside, so defendant could not have have known it would fall.

Holding:

No, defendant was not liable for his tree falling into the road. Affirmed.


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