$9.5M lawsuit claims 'rotten' tree killed pregnant woman
Multnomah County and a Troutdale couple face a multi-million-dollar lawsuit filed by the family of a pregnant woman and her unborn child who were crushed to death by a tree in 2016.
The estate of Kristi Leigh Oliver seeks $9.5 million for the two deaths that occurred while Oliver was driving to work along Southeast Oxbow Drive at roughly 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, in Troutdale.
The lawsuit states that many trees in the area are in poor condition, while the tree that fell was "visibly rotten to the core."
Oliver — a lifelong resident of Gresham, Troutdale and Northeast Portland, according to her obituary — was 30 at the time of her death. She was four months pregnant.
Pictures of the crash show the roof and driver's side of Oliver's red 2001 Ford Explorer SUV was completely crushed by the tree, which was rooted about five feet away from the roadway in the right-of-way owned by Multnomah County.
"This tree, it just broke off out of nowhere. It looked like it had exploded. But it hit her truck, spun her truck around," eyewitness Mike Weber told KOIN 6 News, an Outlook media partner, at the time.
The lawsuit claims that the property owners, Jill and Mark Harrington, "told county officials that something needed to be done with these trees, but the County would not let him remove them." The lawsuit doesn't elaborate on the county's reasoning.
Multnomah County traffic data from 2014 indicate that 1,720 vehicles pass along Oxbow Drive every day, the lawsuit claims.
The suit was filed on Monday, Feb. 5, by widower Jeremy Oliver. The couple had been married since 2009 and were raising a 3-year-old boy named Michael.
Kristi Oliver was a 2004 graduate of Reynolds High who also attended Margaret Scott Elementary and Walt Morey Middle School.
She earned an associate's degree at Mt. Hood Community College, according to her obituary, and later worked at a Fred Meyer bakery, Office Depot, the Paper Factory and Lowe's, where she was promoted to head cashier, and later, sales coordinator.
"She enjoyed camping, scrapbooking, board and card games, the beach, the Portland Trail Blazers and Disneyland," the obituary says.
This is at least the second lawsuit filed in two years regarding a death caused by a tree in East Multnomah County. The family of a man crushed to death by a tree on the Historic Columbia River Highway filed a $2.2 million suit against the Oregon Department of Transportation in June 2017. That case is pending.