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Oracle CEO Settles Longstanding Lawsuit Over Trees

Wednesday, 1 Jun 2011 | 12:59 PM ET

Oracle CEO and Founder Larry Ellison has settled his longstanding lawsuit…over trees.

Barri Kaplan Bonapart, who specializes in tree law, and represents Mr. Ellison, told CNBC that the lawsuit has been “resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Larry Ellison
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Larry Ellison

A trial date had been set for June 6.

The multi-millionaire’s 5-bedroom, 10,000+ square-foot residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights had had its views of the Bay become obstructed by his neighbor’s two giant redwood trees.

The Oracle CEO and his neighbor, the von Bothmers, have been involved in a longstanding dispute over the huge trees, a dispute that escalated into Ellison suing his neighbor in June of 2010. The tech titan claimed his view was obstructed and that he would suffer lost property value if the trees were not trimmed. The von Bothmers wanted the privacy their sprawling trees provided them from Ellison’s frequent social gatherings at his home, according to someone who has intimate knowledge of the case.

Marie Hurabiell, an attorney for the von Bothmers, said they have agreed to trim the trees as part of their settlement and that no money exchanged hands. “Everyone is looking forward to moving on,” she told CNBC.

Ellison’s scenic view came at a price, with ugly disputes regarding the trees dating back to 2008. The von Bothmers claimed they once caught workers hired by Ellison in the redwoods prepared to cut them down, something that Ellison denied in his deposition, saying “you know I don’t do things like that. I’m a public figure.”

The von Bothmers fought back at Ellison, trying to get their tree protected as a “landmark tree” by the city of San Francisco.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Real Estate Blog “Curbed” reported this week that Ellison agreed to purchase the home directly next to his for $40 million. The 22-bedroom home, owned by a family called the Rosekrans, will provide him with a clear view of the Bay.

Ellison, who according to Forbes is the fifth richest person in the world, tried to buy the von Bothmers' home on two separate occasions but they turned down his $15 million offer.

California’s “Tree Dispute Resolution Ordinance,” passed in 1988, allows tree and view disputes to go to court if all other attempts fail.

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An earlier version of this story mistakenly cited Curbed as reporting that Ellison had offered to buy the von Bothmers' home. The Curbed report actually stated that he made that offer to the Rosekrans.

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