Newport Beach Pays $1 Million in Suit

The city settled a lawsuit for more than $1 million.

In 2011, Haeyoon Miller, 29, was killed by a eucalyptus tree that fell on her car. The eucalyptus tree was 10 tons. It crushed the car and killed Haeyoon Miller. Miller sustained blunt force trauma and crushing injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene. This horrific accident took place at Irvine Avenue and 17th Street. It has been Newport Beach’s responsibility to care for the trees on the public property.  Costa Mesa is also responsible for paying for part of the upkeep.

The tree had no obvious signs of disease. According to witnesses, the only warning sign was a creaking noise before the tree fell. The tree was a 50 foot tall blue gum eucalyptus. It was over 60 years ago. The deadly tree was one of 100 eucalyptus trees on Irvine Avenue. The city arborist found no evidence of disease when he first examined the tree. Other arborists and experts stated that the tree’s root system was decayed.

Haeyoon Miller’s parents filed a wrongful death claim against Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, in 2012. Hyun Myung Suk, Haeyoon’s mother, sought damages in excess of $10,000 from Newport Beach. She sought damages including the expenses for her daughter’s burial, funeral, and memorial.  Hyun Myung Suk also sought damages for the loss of care, comfort, support, and companionship. Her suit alleged that the city was negligent in its planting and maintenance of the trees. The claim also alleges that Newport Beach removed eucalyptus trees to conceal and destroy evidence. Sunyl Chung, Haeyoon Miller’s father, also filed claims against Newport Beach and Costa Mesa for an undisclosed amount. He alleged that the cities were negligent in the maintenance of the trees. He is seeking damages for the cost of Miller’s vehicle and medical and emergency services.

Costa Mesa was not held responsible for the trees and paid nothing to the plaintiffs. Newport Beach City Council approved two separate $500,000 payments to Haeyoon Miller’s parents. The tree contractor paid $50,000. Neither Newport Beach nor the contractor admitted to any fault or wrongdoing.

Haeyoon Miller was a Tustin Resident. She was an accomplished violinist who studied at Julliard School of Music. Miller had moved to American from Korea to attend Julliard. A year before her death she opened a sports-training studio for children in Costa Mesa. She was also a full time executive assistant at a mortgage firm. Miller was running a quick errand to the studio when she was killed.

This unfortunate accident left Miller’s family and friends emotionally scarred. If you have ever lost a loved one in an accident, contact a Newport Beach wrongful death lawyer.