Appeals court upholds dismissal of tree-cutting case in Struthers

Staff report


The 7th District Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld a trial judge’s dismissal of a complaint by a Struthers couple concerning Ohio Edison’s tree- cutting practices.

The appeals court’s Tuesday ruling pertained to a $10 million lawsuit brought against the electric utility by Raymond and Maria DeLost of Lakeshore Drive, Struthers, after the utility’s tree-cutter chopped down 21 white pine trees in a power-line easement that runs through the couple’s backyard July 1, 2008.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court dismissed the case without a trial in October 2010, saying Ohio Edison had a proper easement to remove the trees and landowners have no right to damages for tree removal within a valid utility easement.

“The only remaining question about Ohio Edison’s decision to cut down, rather than trim, trees is a vegetation- management question and falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the PUCO to determine,” the appeals court ruled.

The PUCO is the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates utilities such as Ohio Edison.

A complaint by the DeLosts against Ohio Edison concerning the tree-cutting still is pending before that commission.

Raymond DeLost, who is a lawyer, said he will appeal the 7th District Court decision to the Ohio Supreme Court because he said the appellate court “did not properly address all of the issues raised in the appeal.”

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