Crime & Public Safety

Beaufort couple came home to find their trees ‘cut down,’ lawsuit says. Now they’re suing their neighbors

A Beaufort couple filed a lawsuit against their neighbors for allegedly cutting down a row of privacy trees while the couple was away from home, according to documents filed in the Beaufort County Court of Common Pleas.

When Glen and Kathy Lynn Kilgore first built their home on Spanish Point Drive in Beaufort in the 1990s, they knew someone would eventually build a home on the vacant lot next door, so they put in a row of 13 sweet viburnum trees to act as an eventual privacy barrier, the suit says.

From 2003 to 2017, the trees grew to more than 20 feet tall, according to the lawsuit. Mark and Lorin Siegel built a house on the property next door and moved into the home in March of 2017.

In October 2015, Lorin Siegel asked Glen Kilgore if he would be willing to trim the trees since they would block the Siegel’s view of the Beaufort river, according to the suit. Kilgore declined.

Last July, the Kilgores left Beaufort on a weekend trip and when they returned they found that their trees had been cut down to “approximately half their former height,” the suit says.

When the Kilgores approached their neighbors about the trees, the Siegels told them they thought the trees were on their property, the suit claims.

The suit seeks judgment against the Siegels for negligence and recklessness, for trespass and for violation of a South Carolina statute that says that “It is unlawful for a person to willfully and maliciously cut, mutilate, deface, or otherwise injure a tree, house, outside fence, or fixture of another or commit any other trespass upon real property of another.”

Damages are sought in the suit for destruction of the Kilgores’ property, impairing its value, loss of use and emotional distress. Punitive damages are also sought.

Attorneys for both the Kilgores and the Siegels declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

This lawsuit represents one side of a legal dispute.

The Kilgores’ home is listed for sale multiple real estate websites, including Trulia and Zillow, with an asking price of $2.5 million. Both sites show that the price dropped from $2.845 million on Aug. 22 of last year, a month after the trees had been cut down.

Michael Olinger: 843-706-8107, @mikejolinger