(1) If any person shall cut down, deaden, destroy or take away any tree without the consent of the owner of such tree, such person shall pay to the owner of such tree a sum equal to double the fair market value of the tree cut down, deadened, destroyed or taken away, together with the reasonable cost of reforestation, which cost shall not exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00) per acre. The liability for the damages established in this subsection shall be absolute and unconditional and the fact that a person cut down, deadened, destroyed or took away any tree in good faith or by honest mistake shall not be an exception or defense to liability. To establish a right of the owner prima facie to recover under the provisions of this subsection, the owner shall only be required to show that such timber belonged to such owner, and that such timber was cut down, deadened, destroyed or taken away by the defendant, his agents or employees, without the consent of such owner. The remedy provided for in this section shall be the exclusive remedy for the cutting down, deadening, destroying or taking away of trees and shall be in lieu of any other compensatory, punitive or exemplary damages for the cutting down, deadening, destroying or taking away of trees but shall not limit actions or awards for other damages caused by a person.
(2) If the cutting down, deadening, destruction or taking away of a tree without the consent of the owner of such tree be done willfully, or in reckless disregard for the rights of the owner of such tree, then in addition to the damages provided for in subsection (1) of this section, the person cutting down, deadening, destroying or taking away such tree shall pay to the owner as a penalty Fifty-five Dollars ($55.00) for every tree so cut down, deadened, destroyed or taken away if such tree is seven (7) inches or more in diameter at a height of eighteen (18) inches above ground level, or Ten Dollars ($10.00) for every such tree so cut down, deadened, destroyed or taken away if such tree is less than seven (7) inches in diameter at a height of eighteen (18) inches above ground level, as established by a preponderance of the evidence. To establish the right of the owner prima facie, to recover under the provisions of this subsection, it shall be required of the owner to show that the defendant or his agents or employees, acting under the command or consent of their principal, willfully and knowingly, in conscious disregard for the rights of the owner, cut down, deadened, destroyed or took away such trees.
(3) All reasonable expert witness fees and attorney's fees shall be assessed as court costs in the discretion of the court.
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