An Idaho family is suing the U.S. Forest Service for over $1 million after a large, dead tree fell and injured their son in Boise National Forest.
Caldwell couple Richard and Melinda Armstrong claimed their family was camping at a remote site in Sept. 2010, when a gust of wind blew a dead tree onto their son. The boy, who was six at the time, sustained a large laceration, a compound fracture, and a puncture wound on his back that made it difficult to breathe.
Their son, whose name was not released, was taken to a Boise hospital by helicopter.
"The tree was clearly dead — had been dead for years — and was within eight feet of the fire ring, and within 48 feet of the Forest Service road," said the family’s attorney, Eric Rossman, on Wednesday. "It was an obvious hazard."
The Armstrongs claim the USFC was negligent and they are seeking more than $1 million in damages and emotional stress.
According to Rossman, the boy has had multiple surgeries. He says the incident has caused “severe permanent impairment” of the boy’s leg.
Spokesman for the USFS David Olson said it is not agency policy to comment on pending litigation.
The family alleges the USFC had to be aware that the campsite was frequented by visitors, as evidenced by a rock ring constructed so a fire could be built there. If the USFC did have that knowledge they would have to "to take immediate measures to inspect and remove the tree, close the site and/or warn user at the site of the serious risk of injury, death or property damage."
A similar lawsuit in Oregon in 2010, when a man claimed a tree struck his truck while he was driving and injured him, was settled and dismissed in early 2013.
The Armstrong family's suit follows on the heels of a Idaho federal judge ruling that the USFC was liable for not posting signs to govern snowmobile travel. U.S. District Judge Ronald Bush ruled April 1 that the USFC is responsible for crafting rules that regulate all off-road travel and designating areas where off-road vehicles can be used on public lands.