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Attorney, Law School Professor Dennis Franks Identified As Man Killed After Tree Falls On Encino Home

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A prominent local attorney and an adjunct professor at the USC Gould School of Law and Pepperdine Law has been identified as the man who died when a massive oak tree fell into his Encino home.

Dennis Franks, 64, was in a second-floor bedroom when the tree fell onto the home int he 5000 block of North Odessa Avenue at about 11:15 p.m. Sunday night. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and the Los Angeles Fire Department.

According to Franks' LinkedIn profile, he most recently has been working as an adjunct professor at the USC Gould School of Law and at Pepperdine Law. But before he turned to academia, he spent several years as a legal advisor for Twentieth Century Fox Film and the Walt Disney Company. Franks had recently retired during the pandemic.

"He's the rock of our family," Kevin Franks said. "I want him remembered as like a caretaker -- he took care of everyone. We're going to love him and miss him and think about him forever."

Franks' wife, Maureen, and daughter Becca -- who were on the first floor when the tree fell -- were able to get out safely, along with their dog, Parker. Kevin Franks said his father had been reading in a "man cave" of sorts converted from what was once his childhood bedroom.

"He was in his happy place, I guess," Kevin Franks said.

The ancient tree was estimated to be at least 500 years old and weigh 100,000 pounds. Such trees are protected and require approval from LA County planners for removal. According to the LA Fire Department, the homeowners had paid for regular maintenance of the tree – but neighbors say they had seen the tree leaning as much as 30 degrees in recent days.

Authorities remained at the scene Tuesday to remove the tree from the home, which has been red-tagged by the city's Department of Building and Safety.

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