Family of woman hit by tree branch in SF park sues city

Family of woman hit by tree branch in SF park sues city

The family of a woman hit by a fallen tree branch in a San Francisco park earlier this year has filed a lawsuit against The City, claiming negligent pruning and maintenance of the tree led to the branch falling.

Emma Zhou, 36, was in North Beach’s Washington Square Park on Aug. 12 with her daughters when a 100-pound branch of a pine tree broke off and fell on Zhou, leaving her with a severed spinal cord, a fractured skull, brain damage and permanent paralysis below the waist, according to the complaint filed Monday in San Francisco Superior Court.

SEE RELATED: Woman struck by falling tree limb in Washington Square Park

The complaint alleges that The City had received reports of fallen pine branches in the park prior to the August incident, but failed to properly care for the trees.

“At least one of these pines was reported to have dropped multiple branches on the playground in 2008 and then in 2009 the playground was taped because of hanging branches,” Jeremy Cloyd, an attorney with The Veen Firm that is representing the Zhou family, said in a statement.

“The City knows that trees pruned like this must be watched closely and pruned frequently because they will continue to develop branches that are too heavy and large for the tree to support,” he said.

The lawsuit seeks damages for Zhou including incurred medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and noneconomic damages, as well as damages in amounts to be determined for her husband and Zhou’s daughters, who continue to suffer “emotional distress” from witnessing the branch fall on their mother.

Meanwhile, Zhou remains hospitalized and is learning to use a wheelchair, her attorney said Monday.

“She is having a hard time emotionally, but tries to put on a good face, remain positive, and work on her recovery,” Cloyd said.

John Cote, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, said Monday the office had not yet been served with the lawsuit.

“We haven’t been served with the lawsuit, so we can’t comment on specifics about something we haven’t seen,” Cote said in a statement. “Generally speaking, we evaluate every case we receive and decide on the best way to proceed. What happened to Ms. Zhou is heartbreaking, and our thoughts go out to her and her family.”

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Charles Joseph, who is represented by the San Francisco Public Defender’s office, is facing deportation to Fiji. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Giving immigrants a second chance after incarceration

Legislation would allow some faced with deportation a chance to challenge their old convictions

The San Francisco Police Department released body camera footage of the alleged assault on Dacari Spiers. (Via SFPD Body Cam)
SF police officer to stand trial for assault over baton beating

A San Francisco police officer who prosecutors say unnecessarily beat a man… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed announced The City’s return to the red tier for COVID-19 precautions at Pier 39 on Tuesday<ins>, March 2, 2021</ins>. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
San Francisco enters red COVID tier, indoor dining to resume

Museums and gyms can reopen with capacity limits

Cole Odin Berggren, community programs director and drum and DJ instructor at Blue Bear School of Music in The City, holds a JackTrip device, which he says has greatly improved students’ experience of making music online. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
COVID-era musicians beginning to make connections

Software eliminates pesky delay plaguing most systems

Under the new plan, Twin Peaks Boulevard would be reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists until Christmas Tree Point.	(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA board approves new plan for Twin Peaks Boulevard

Cuts vehicle-free space by half. Neighbors say crime, vandalism will still abound

Most Read