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Analysis and Preservation Recommendations for Resurrection Tree


A historic tree that was a sapling in 1776 and predated the settlement of northern Franklin, Tennessee was showing signs of stress. A detailed investigation was performed on the tree to uncover the source of the problem. The analysis revealed that there were several pests and that there were extensive decay and defects that were putting people and property at risk. The underlying problem of the tree was too much pedestrian and maintenance traffic that resulted in soil compaction and a disruption of the site's soil biodiversity. Treatment recommendations were formulated as part of a one hundred page formal report. The entire report may be found at:


Formal Report for Resurrection Tree 2016

Investigation of Tree Worker Fatality at Lake Guntersville State Park


February 2015 - March 2016

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Matt Minner, and Ashley Pinehardt


The investigation into a workplace fatality in which a tree contractor and his worker were performing FEMA clean-up of tornado damaged trees in northeastern Alabama. The worker was killed when a topless standing trunk was improperly felled and impacted the worker as he was trying to escape up a steep embankment. The case involved the comprehensive review of thousands of pages of the case file documents, OSHA safety and compliance issues, ANSI Z133 safety standards, and a 10 plus hour long deposition. The case settled out of court in March 2016. 



Influence of Annual Plant Growth and Mowing on Traffic Safety


August 2014 - September 2014

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Johnathan Williams


Investigation of plant growth and vegetation management practice along a roadside approaching a busy Nashville intersection where a crash involving drivers of two motorcycles and two additional vehicles. I prepared a one hundred sixteen page report reviewing key investigators evidence in the case. I was also able to document growth and maintenance of the focal roadside vegetation since 2007. I was able to substantiate and document the site distances that the owner of the property provided to drivers leading up to and just prior to the crash. The case settled out of court in September of 2014.


Amenity Tree Damage Appraisal in Todd v. Taylor


March 2011 - June 2014

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA; Henry Todd, Frank Buck


Trespass damage case involving 15 mature trees on a littoral residential site. Project involved site examination and evidence gathering, site use analysis and CTLA Trunk Formula appraisal calculations. Assignment scope encompassed the preparation of a preliminary report and concluded with the preparation of a one hundred forty page formal report. That report included certification, summary, background, assignment scope and limits, purpose, observations, analysis and methods, discussions, conclusions, recommendations, and various supporting documents such as a detailed site map, high definition photos, glossary, bibliography, and other relevant matter. This case settled in August 2014 just before the trial was scheduled.



Cost of Cure Tree Appraisal in Piedmont Gas v. Bridges 


September 2013

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA; Tom Peebles


Conducted a tree appraisal utilizing CTLA Cost of Cure. Project included site evaluation of four parcels and landscape design/specifications to restore amenity function and aesthetics. Final report was 108 pages. Case settled out of court immediately following report submittal.  



United States v. Lorance 


October 2012 to April 2013

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA; Phil Pfeiffer


I conducted an investigation and prepared a one hundred thirty-five page report with a nine page supplement. The report included my observations, testing & analysis, in depth discussion and recommendations which included a landscape architectural design. The 9th edition of CTLA Guide for Plant Appraisal Cost of Cure Method was employed. The following opinions and conclusions from my testimony  were accepted by the court:

  • Qualitative Cost to Cure appraisal of trees that were lost was made by transplanting and establishing trees lost to cutting

  • Effort was made to improve the site to its previous condition or better with regard to tree aesthetics and functions

  • Effort was made to ascertain how the pre-existing trees contributed to the appearance and aesthetic value of the land as a whole using aerial photographs and photographs taken prior to the taking

  • A plainimeter was used to make measurements of aerial photography to determine canopy sizes

  • Qualitative assessment of tree conditions were made by looking at roots, buttress, trunk, branches and leaves of trees and stumps that still existed at or near the site after the taking 

  • Trees that were cut were not actually seen by the appraiser

  • Tree/site suitability was determined by soil and site analysis and compared to tree attributes.

  • Tree desirability was determined by nursery stock availability and pricing and Regional  ISA Species Rating Guide

  • Some of the functional qualities that were considered in detail were screening, livestock shelter, erosion control, noise attenuation, and wind attenuation

  • Replacement tree sizes were determined by the largest commonly available nursery stock

  • Stateliness was a key aesthetic factor of consideration in this case

  • Trees in the design plan would serve as a land improvement that would create much greater value in the future than would the trees that existed before the taking

  • The trees that existed prior to the taking provided the very benefits to the property that were attempted in the planned cure such as function, aesthetics, wildlife habitat, and erosion control

  • Although it might take 15 years for the trees to mature, a complete screen or privacy from the utility facility was not necessary to provide effective screening. Planting of trees can be used to diminish the visual impact of the transmission pole/line view.

  • Through replacement tree selection, size, shape, color and  placement, trees can be used to create alterations in the perspective of the view’s focal point to cause an effective screen without completely obscuring the view of the pole/line

  • This value was based on the premise as if the property owner were seeking to sell the whole property rather than the open field or view


       This file contains the federal court's decision: Federal Decision in United States v Lorance



Evaluation and Assessment of Pine Tree Failure at Sky Ranch


January 2012 to June 2012

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Nuru Witherspoon, Esq.


A personal injury forensic assignment in which the surviving family of a twelve-year-old boy (who was a guest at a children's camp) filed a multi-million dollar law suit where the boy was suddenly struck by the top of a dead pine tree which broke in windy conditions. I prepared a fifty-page preliminary report and was deposed. The case settled shortly thereafter.



Evaluation of Trespass Damages to Hemlock Trees


May 2012 to June 2012

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCARussell Berkowitz


Evaluation of trespass damages due to improper pruning and maintenance of hemlock trees. The project included a review of all case documents. After preliminary findings and opinions were submitted, the case quickly settled out of court.



Tree Hazard Evaluation and Risk Assessment of Hackberry Tree


February 2012 


Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Leesa Hinson, Esq.

A neighbor dispute involving an enormous and degraded hackberry tree that was in danger of falling on a children's play set. The owner of the tree initially disputed that the tree needed to be removed, but after viewing my report and a short discussion with him, he decided to allow the tree to be removed the next day.



Investigation of Oak Tree Failure Following Hurricane Gustav


March 2011 
Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCAMichael Parker


A preliminary report investigating the failure of a large oak tree that fell following heavy rains and high winds caused by Hurricane Gustav in Louisiana. The tree fell on a house killing one occupant inside. The case involved a utility line clearance company's work on the tree several months earlier. After submitting a report of my preliminary investigation into the case documents (including the opposing councils expert report), the case quickly settled. 



Storage and Safety of Soil Containers


May 2011 
Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Wilma Gray


The investigation, report and deposition for the case of a large soil container at a nursery which suddenly fell onto a security guard at night causing severe and permanent injuries. This was a complex case that involved many interwoven factors including the safety policies and practices at the nursery, the safety policies and practices of the security firm, the actions of the security guard leading up to and the night of the incident, the constitution of the container, the nature of the containers contents, and the weather conditions leading up to the incident. I produced a lengthy and detailed report and was deposed. Soon after the case settled out of court.



Investigation of Work Place Safety Following Tree Felling Fatality


March 2011 to August 2011

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Michael Herron, Esq.


Investigation and review of case file documents in which a tree worker improperly felled a storm damaged pine tree causing his death. The worker made an improper back-cut into the trunk that bypassed his face-cut leaving no hinge. When the tree did not fall, he placed an axe into the back cut and began hitting it with a hammer. The result of the final hammer blow is that the wood fibers holding the tree upright separated and the tree began to fall unpredictably. The worker attempted to flee in a direction that was not consistent with escape. The worker was struck on the head and upper body and died of massive injuries. My investigation revealed that he was not wearing personal protective equipment (including a helmet) that could have saved his life. Additionally, he had never been trained in the proper techniques for felling trees, had never been instructed in OSHA, ANSI, or ISA safety regulations/guidelines/standards or had any other safety training that would have prevented his death. The company had a history of previous safety violations that included another fatality. The general liability insurance policy coverage for the worker's company did not specifically include tree work.



Evaluation and Assessment of Oak Tree Failure at Hermitage Golf Course


March 2010 to June 2010

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, John Thomas Feeney, III


A $10,000,000 personal injury case that involved the death of two golfers who were killed when a massive oak tree fell suddenly onto their golf cart in windy conditions. Soon after I prepared a one hundred twenty-three page formal report, the case settled out of court.


Performance Evaluation of Landscape Contract Installation


January 2008 to November 2008

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA


Investigation and report detailing the performance of C3 Landscape Company's contract to install $35,000 in ornamental landscape plants. I prepared a fifty-six page report showing that unusual freezing temperatures, that occurred after the installation was completed, were the cause of plant failures. The report demonstrated that standard practice was employed by the contractor in the execution of the contract. The case went to court and all my opinions were upheld. 



Barger Tanner Construction at Planning Commission; City of Franklin


April 2007 

Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA, Mike Tanner


A developer needed to inventory and identify the size, species, location and condition of trees on a fifty acre site in Franklin. This site was one of two large tracts within city limits that had significant canopy cover. Several very large trees at this site were identified for preservation. My report was used for the purpose of determining the preservation of trees and woodland areas, and to assess how much money would need to be contributed to the city's Tree Fund. The report I presented to the commission detailed the site's tree populations and densities- showing that much of the site had small, poor-quality trees. The developer's plan preserved 9 of the of the 10 most important trees and nearly all of the important wooded areas. The site was rezoned, and construction began shortly thereafter.

McKormic v Rock Bottom Excavation Company


June 2002 
Team Members: Marty Shaw, RCA


Trespass case where trees were destroyed and fill soil covered all the stumps. All tree remnants were placed in a large pile next to the clearing. Trees were measured and a detailed Plant Appraisal Report was prepared. The case went to court and the plaintiff won.


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