Woman files suit, claims trees caused injuries

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle's Bradford pear trees are the target of a lawsuit stemming after one of them was struck by an automobile in a highway mishap last January.
Glenda Grayson of 105 Milner Street, Apartment B, Hartselle, is suing the city for $500,000 for what she claims was the "severe and debilitating injuries" she received when her car struck one of the trees on Jan. 7. Hartselle Beautification Association, the organization responsible for the planting of the trees and their upkeep, is named as a co-defendant.
Notice of the claim was dated July 5 and received at the city clerk/controller's office the following day.
The claim was filed in Morgan County Circuit Court by Grayson's attorney, Tina Parker of Birmingham. It alleges the tree his client hit is "in violation of federal highway guidelines way guidelines which limit the size of trees which may be maintained in roadway clear zones."
Mayor Dwight Tankersley said the matter has been placed in the hands of City Attorney Larry Madison and Peck-Glasgow Agency, the city's insurance carrier.
A Hartselle Police accident report indicates that the mishap referred to in the lawsuit occurred at approximately 6:25 p.m. A 1992 Cadillac Seville, driven by Grayson, left the roadway between Moss Chapel Road and State Street and collided with a pear tree in the median. Grayson was flown to Huntsville Hospital by Medflight Air Rescue.
The pear trees in the Highway 31 median, from north to south city limits, came under question last January when similar plantings in the Birmingham area were targeted for removal by the Alabama Department of Transportation. Some of the trees are more than 15 years old.
Johnny Harris, ALDOT's division I engineer, said trees with a diameter of more than four inches are not permitted in state-maintained federal highways.
"In accordance with a division-wide directive, we are in the process of identifying areas of concern, from both the standpoint of safety and liability," he said at the time. "We will use experts in the forestry industry to look at the trees in medians across the division and take their recommendations under consideration before any decision is made."
Mayor Tankersley said he has not communicated since with Harris since January about the status of the trees.

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