Woman injured in freak tree accident having trouble bringing legal action

Dan Scott says his family has reached out to two major Twin Cities law firms to represent his wife Micki after she was hit by a tree while eating dinner on the patio at Punch Pizza in Wayzata on May 6.

But he says both firms turned him down because they said it would be difficult to collect any money for what is being called an "Act of God."

After the incident, Wayzata City Manager Jeffrey Dahl said the tree on the plot of city owned land called "The Big Woods" was diseased, but there were no obvious signs of rot before it fell.

"I would consider it an 'Act of God' based on the information I've seen," Dahl said. "A freak accident. There wasn't any negligence or anything like that. Just an unfortunate circumstance. Wrong place wrong time."

According to Minnesota statute, "'Act of God' means an unanticipated grave natural disaster or other natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable and irresistible character, the effects of which could not have been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight."

Attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not involved in this incident says that's a long way of saying no one is at fault. 

He says the term usually refers to events like tornados, floods or lightning strikes and in most cases, insurance covers the damage to homes or cars.

But he says it could be difficult for Scott to sue for damages or pain and suffering because she would have to prove the city knew the tree was diseased before it fell but didn't take steps to protect the public.

"If they had a policy where they check these trees once a year and they failed to do so then you may have a cause of action, but I don't know if that's the case here," Tamburino said.

While Scott has insurance to cover her medical bills, her husband worries what all this will cost her in the future.

"I'm not looking for 7 corvettes and a castle in Scotland," Scott said. "I'm just looking for her to be taken care of until she's healthy again if that ever happens."

Micki Scott is recovering at a Twin Cities long-term rehabilitation facility.

Her family is still trying to raise money to pay for a medical flight to get her back to Portland, Ore., which isn't covered by her insurance.