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Family, Friends of Woman Killed by Falling Tree Will Get $28M

Mother of the bride was killed, others injured in horrifying 2016 incident
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2020 3:22 AM CDT
Updated Oct 21, 2020 6:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – The family and friends of a woman who was killed by a falling tree at her daughter's California wedding will receive $28 million if a tentative settlement is approved by a judge Friday. Margarita Mojarro, 61, was posing for pictures with the wedding party in Whittier's Penn Park in December 2016 when the 70-foot eucalyptus, which had been over-watered and was on a dangerous 20% grade, fell. Several others were hurt, including a 3-year-old girl who suffered irreparable brain damage. The family and other members of the wedding party reached the settlement with the city, which it says was negligent in failing to deal with the decaying, rotting tree or warn park visitors about the risk.

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"There is no amount of money that can bring back family members or heal the damage that was done," the family's lawyer says, "but they are pleased to put this tragic event behind them, and they feel good about that." City officials initially insisted the incident was "an unforeseeable Act of God" and that the tree had been inspected multiple times in the prior two years, with no issues found. An independent expert hired by the family, however, found more than 90% of the roots were dead, and that the level of rot and decay would have been observable for at least five years prior to the incident. The family is also suing the arborists hired to maintain trees in the park. (Read more falling tree stories.)

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