- Ag Docket
Fourteen families filed an action against two logging companies and others, alleging that their properties were damaged by three landslides that occurred near Glenoma, Washington, because of the actions of the logging companies. The plaintiffs asserted claims of strict liability, trespass, nuisance, and negligence. The trial court dismissed all of the claims on summary judgment, except the negligence claim against one of the logging companies. A jury found in favor of the logging company on that claim. The plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their remaining claims. On review, the court affirmed, finding first that clear-cutting steep, unstable slopes directly above residential properties was not, as plaintiffs alleged, an abnormally dangerous activity subject to strict liability. No court in Washington or elsewhere has imposed strict liability for timber harvest activities, and given the totality of the circumstances, the court concluded that any additional landslide risk caused by logging in a remote area did not favor imposing liability without the need for a finding of negligence. The court also ruled that the trial court did not err in dismissing the nuisance and trespass claims as duplicative of the negligence claims. The nuisance claim was grounded in the same facts and allegations as the negligence claim, and the plaintiffs had not set forth any evidence of knowledge, which was necessary to prove a trespass claim. The court also found that the trial court did not err in dismissing the negligence claim against the remaining logging company because there was no evidence indicating that the company breached the duty of care owed by a reasonable logger. Hurley v. Port Blakely Tree Farms LP, No. 71430-9-1, 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 1609 (Wash. Ct. App. Jun. 30, 2014).
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