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Home / Courts / N.C. Court of Appeals / Tort/Negligence – Over-Logging – Neighbor’s Trees – Independent Contractor

Tort/Negligence – Over-Logging – Neighbor’s Trees – Independent Contractor

Generally, a company is not liable for the torts of an independent contractor committed in the performance of the contracted work. Plaintiff presented no evidence that an agency relationship existed between defendants and Otis Hill Logging – hired by defendants to cut timber from land adjacent to plaintiff’s. As a result, the only evidence before the trial court was defendants’ evidence that Otis Hill Logging was an independent contractor and not an agent of defendants.

We affirm summary judgment for defendants.

Plaintiff contends that his neighbor (third-party defendant Cline), defendant Thurman, and an employee from Otis Hill Logging met prior to any timbering to observe the property boundaries, and a dispute about which boundaries were shown exists; despite this meeting and the inclusion of the legal description of the land to be cut in the timber assignment, an overcut occurred.

However, this evidence does not support the allegation that defendants contracted with Otis Hill Logging to trespass on plaintiff’s property. Accordingly, there existed no genuine issue of material fact and defendants were entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff’s claim for trespass to land.

Where defendants presented evidence that they hired Otis Hill as an independent contractor to cut the timber from the neighbor’s property, and where plaintiff presented no evidence that defendants personally converted any of his property or that defendants purchased the timber cut from his property, plaintiff failed to establish a claim for conversion.

Since plaintiff (1) presented no evidence that defendants personally removed timber from plaintiff’s property, much less removed it in a negligent manner; (2) presented no evidence that Otis Hill Logging was an employee of defendants; and (3) made no assertion that defendants were negligent in hiring Otis Hill Logging to remove the timber from the neighbor’s property, the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of defendants with regard to plaintiff’s negligence claim.

Affirmed.

Hamby v. Thurman Timber Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-229-18, 12 pp.) (Valerie Zachary, J.) Appealed from Stokes County Superior Court (Richard Gottlieb, J.) Matthew Spencer and Steven Smith for plaintiff; Michael Gibson and Michael Haigler for defendants; Karen Strom Talley for third-party defendant. N.C. App.

 

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