Judge nixes city's bid to overturn $7.6M verdict in palm tree in - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Judge nixes city's bid to overturn $7.6M verdict in palm tree injury case

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  • Man paralyzed by tree awarded millions

    Man paralyzed by tree awarded millions

    Friday, December 21 2012 7:04 PM EST2012-12-22 00:04:51 GMT
    A jury Friday awarded more than $7.6 million in damages to a Mission Hills attorney who was rendered a paraplegic when a giant palm tree fell on him outside his home, crushing his legs. 
    A jury Friday awarded more than $7.6 million in damages to a Mission Hills attorney who was rendered a paraplegic when a giant palm tree fell on him outside his home, crushing his legs. 

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A judge Friday rejected efforts by the city of San Diego to avoid paying more than $7.6 million in damages awarded to a local attorney after a giant palm tree fell on him and crushed his legs.

The city had asked the court for a new trial and for a decision to overturn the multi-million dollar earlier jury verdict.

Attorney Michael Burke suffered paralysis of the lower half of his body on Jan, 21, 2010, when the 60-foot, 2,600-pound, Queen Palm toppled following a four-day storm.

Burke sued the city of San Diego, claiming it was responsible for the accident in Mission Hills because it had cut back on yearly inspections and maintenance of trees due to budget constraints.

A jury in December awarded Burke and his wife, Edith, millions of dollars in lost earnings and medical expenses.

Jurors found that the Queen Palm was in a "dangerous condition" when it fell on Burke. The jury also found that the city had notice of the tree's condition with enough time to do something about it.

City attorneys told the jury that the tree toppling was an "act of God" that could not have been foreseen. They said the city never received complaints about the condition of the tree before it fell.

To date, Burke has undergone 14 surgeries and there is a high probability that he will have to undergo bilateral, below-the-knee amputations due to the severity of his injuries, according to his legal team.

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