California judge orders couple to pay $600,000 for uprooting 180-year-old oak tree

SONOMA, Cali. — A couple in California will have to pay nearly $600,000 after they uprooted a 180-year-old oak tree.

According to The Press Democrat, the lawsuit filed by Sonoma Land Trust claims Peter and Toni Thompson caused extensive damage to the protected land while moving the tree back in 2014.  Stewardship Director Bob Neale said that tree and others they removed all wound up dying.

“It was really the most willful, egregious violation of a conservation easement I’ve ever seen,” Neale told the paper.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Patrick Broderick was very candid in his ruling.

He went on to write, “[They] demonstrated an arrogance and complete disregard for the mandatory terms of the easement.”

The Press Democrat reports that the money they now have to pay back in damages will go towards environmental restorations and other costs outlined by the judge.

The Thompson’s have since put their home on the market, and are reportedly planning to request a new trial.

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