Shuler Limited Partnership Prevails in Lawsuit Against State Division of Forestry and Board of Trustees

Posted Friday, November 9th, 2012

Shuler Limited Partnership, represented by HGS attorneys Kent Safriet and Mike Collazo, has prevailed in its lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Division of Forestry, State of Florida (the “Division of Forestry”) and the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund, State of Florida (the “Board of Trustees”).

In April of 2008, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, the Division of Forestry ignited a prescribed burn in Tate’s Hell State Forest in Franklin County that smoldered for approximately six weeks and caused three wildfires, including one (the “Pasture Fire”) that damaged or destroyed approximately 835 acres of Shuler Limited Partnership’s timber.

To recover its damages from the Pasture Fire, Shuler Limited Partnership sued the Division of Forestry and the Board of Trustees for negligence, statutory violations of Chapter 590, Florida Statutes, negligence per se, and gross negligence.  On November 1, 2012, a Franklin County jury rendered a verdict for Shuler Limited Partnership and against the Division of Forestry and the Board of Trustees on all four counts, and awarded the partnership $741,496 in damages.   “We’re pleased to finally bring this case, which has been pending since March of last year, to a close,” said Kent Safriet.  “We’re also pleased that the jury finally held the Division of Forestry responsible for its grossly negligent conduct of this prescribed burn.”

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