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San Francisco Woman Paralyzed By Falling Tree Branch Sues City

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Attorneys representing a woman whose spine was broken when a large tree branch fell on her in San Francisco's Washington Square Park in August have filed a lawsuit against the city alleging negligence.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that improper pruning and maintenance caused a 100-pound branch to break off a 50-foot tall pine tree at the park on Aug. 12 and strike Emma Zhou as she watched her children play.

Zhou, a 36-year-old mother of two, suffered a severed spinal cord, brain damage and permanent paralysis below the waist. She is not expected to walk again.

Attorney Jeremy Cloyd alleged that public records show at least one of the pines in the park had previously dropped branches on the playground in 2008 and 2009.

"The City knows trees pruned like this must be watched closely and pruned frequently because they will continue to develop branches that are too heavy and large for the tree to support," Cloyd said.

City Recreation and Park officials said after the incident that the Canary Island pine was assessed in 2008 and 2010 and was considered to be in good condition. Two years ago a private tree care company pruned and up-limbed the trees around the park's playground where the woman was injured, officials said.

The accident has caused considerable hardship for the family, forcing Zhou's husband to move to be closer to her while she remains in the hospital, according to Cloyd. A Go Fund Me page has been established for the family to help cover expenses at

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