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Author Topic: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....  (Read 1888 times)

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Offline teddyloehr

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Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« on: January 16, 2005, 07:59:51 PM »
Can you give any recommendations for the following scenario.
We were approached by a timber buyer in SW MI and entered into an agreement to sell to him 3 choice walnut trees.  He came and cut down the trees made a huge mess, cut down trees we did not authorize and also never produced proof of insurance. He is MIA and we are left with $$ of cleanup.  We are shocked!!  Do we cut our losses, learn our lesson?  Our is there any legal recourse here?
Thank you....

Offline Frank_Pender

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Re: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2005, 02:46:18 AM »
Better business bureau and any other agency, state or federal, you can think of, to get after him to clean up the mess.  Was the clean-up in the contract?
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Re: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2005, 02:09:36 PM »
Yes, your info is pretty sketchy. You say you entered into an agreement, do you mean there was some sort of contract?

Your situation, sorry to say, is pretty common. Maybe if you are a little more detailed we might possibly offer comment.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2005, 11:56:02 AM »
Depending upon what your agreement (contract) says, it appears that you may have a case to seek damages if additional trees were cut without your permission.

Was the "timberbuyer" the one and the same person that cut an hauled the trees away?? I assume that you didn't have a professional forester involved at all. You might need one to access damages for any legal action to be considered.


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Re: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2005, 09:44:01 AM »
If they took trees which were not authorized you have the opportunity to file charges, it is theft the same as any other would be, but you have to of specified which trees were to be cut in writing, they should have been marked specifically, they have to pay you for the wood they cut, but the only thing you can do is sue them realistically, the state would charge 4 times the value of the tree if this happened on their land, but being a private deal it has to have been in solid writing, otherwise you are kind of out of luck, sorry,  >:(


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Re: Help! Unlicensed timber buyers....
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2005, 11:21:03 AM »
Welcome to the Forestry Forum Joe.  You will find that this site has more than just information to provide.  Many of freindships are founded here like no other site.

Teddy:  In most communities you can find a lawyer who will offer a one time consultation.  Pose your question to an attorney.  The challenge in that is finding an attorney that understands Forestry.

If you had an agreement, then the agreement is a legal binding agreement, wheather written or verbal.  The challenge in verbal contracts is being able to present enough witness's to support your position.  I am not familiar with MI law on Treble damages but most states do have Treble damages which simply means you MAY be entitled to 3 times the value.  If MI law is written where they can get 4 times the value then you as a citizen are entitled to the same standard.  Jeff might be able to give some insite on MI law regading damages.

Looking at what you presented here are my thoughts.

"sell to him 3 choice walnut trees" -
Walnut Stumpage prices in Illinois are currently $490-830 M/BF - and $1630 -2800 M/BF for Venerre grade logs

Not sure what CHOICE walnut means to you but I find many times that a homeowner thinks that because its a big Walnut it HAS to be worth a fortune.  Not always the case but lets assume they are veneer grade.  Not knowing the size we would have to assume how many BF in those three trees.  If you got 1000 bf from each tree and use an average veneer price you are out $6645.  I think you will find that these numbers represent the BEST CASE scinerio. 
Worst case, they were saw logs and you got an average price of $660 M/BF for a total of $1980. 

Neither of these numbers equal what it would cost you to fight it so lots of folks say take your losses and run.  However, that decision has to be based on the amount of evidence you have to support you position.  It is also a matter of principal.  If my evidence was solid and I knew I was right I would fight it knowing I would get my funds back.............ASSUMING this person even has the funds to collect.  Its easy to get judgments but collection is a whole nother process that takes time and money.

"made a huge mess"

What was outlined in the agreement regarding the tops that are left? More often than not you will find that the loggers do not take or clean up tops.

"cut down trees we did not authorize" 

This one could be a big issue but you have to know the value of what was cut. Do the cost analysis and you will have a better idea of the financial impact.  A good Forester is needed to tell you this information.  WHAT EVER YOU DO, MAKE SURE THE PERSON CALLING THEMSELVES A FORESTER IS IN FACT A FORESTER.  There are LOTS of people making false claims about their credentials in this industry and we have seen many cases of it and discussed it on this forum. 

"never produced proof of insurance"
Was something damaged that insurance is now an issue?  Yes they should have produced that if if was outlined in the agreement but after the fact wont carry much weight, other than to descredit the person who did it.  The judge will tell you that if you wanted proof of insurance then you should have demanded it prior to them stepping on you lot. 

You do have LOTS of legal recourse but to make that decision you need to speak with a good attorney that knows the Forestry business. 

Hope the info is helpful and sorry to hear about your loss. 

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