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Man Hit by Tree in Prospect Park Plans to Sue City for $20 Million

 Prospect Park in Brooklyn. A man who says he was struck by a tree there (not pictured here) is asking the city not to destroy evidence in the case, including the tree.
Prospect Park in Brooklyn. A man who says he was struck by a tree there (not pictured here) is asking the city not to destroy evidence in the case, including the tree.
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Flickr/Robert Walsh

PARK SLOPE — A man who was injured by a falling tree in Prospect Park plans to sue the city for $20 million, and he's asking the Parks Department to avoid putting evidence in his case through the woodchipper, court records show.

Borough Park resident Jermaine Shell filed a notice of claim with the city this week saying he intends to sue for $20 million, and claiming the city failed to properly maintain the tree.

Shell also filed a motion in state Supreme Court this week asking that the city and Parks Department refrain from tampering with evidence — namely the tree itself, its maintenance records, and paperwork about repairs to a water fountain directly in front of the tree.

Shell is also asking for permission to inspect the tree he says struck him on the morning of July 27.

The filing comes after a scary series of tree-related injuries and even deaths in city parks. On Aug. 5 a 30-year-old pregnant woman was killed after an oak fell on her in Kissena Park. The city has said it will hire an outside consultant to review its tree management policies.

Shell was strolling in Prospect Park about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday July 27 when a tree fell and injured him, according to his court filing.

Court papers give no further details about the incident, but a spokesman for the FDNY confirmed that emergency responders rushed to the park after getting 911 calls about a man struck by a tree near East Drive and Center Drive.

The victim was taken by ambulance to Kings County Hospital; details about his injuries weren't available, an FDNY spokesman said.

Shell and his attorney could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The parks watchdog blog A Walk in the Park reported on the injury, and the dog owners group FIDO sent out an alert afterward because the victim had three dogs with him.

"It was very scary — the tree wasn't dead, didn't look weak at all," a rattled FIDO member said in a Facebook post describing the incident.