Woman wins ‘heat’ damages at trial

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Shortly before the Roosevelt Fire sprang into life in 2019, Kristie Caddy’s new log-sided home in the Hoback Ranches was almost complete. Caddy spent several years planning and overseeing the home’s construction on a large piece of secluded property.

The high-quality windows were installed, hand-hewn log siding painted and most work complete with Caddy living there while contractors finished interior work. Outdoor lights were wired; log beams placed and a deck finished, Caddy testified recently in 9th District Court.

The house was essentially completed and everything was fresh and new, she told a 12-member jury on Aug. 9. Suddenly the Roosevelt Fire, sparked by a hunter’s fire, threatened dozens of homes. Caddy evacuated her brand new home for 15 days, she said.

When she returned, she found fire retardant, smoke and ash and charred debris around her home, which was still standing – but nowhere the same as new when she’d left, Caddy testified.

State Farm paid Caddy’s claims for landscaping and cleaning but drew the line at reimbursing her for what she reported as “extreme heat damage” to the costly windows, a double-paned storm door and the carefully selected, top quality log siding and chinking, court records show.

State Farm denied her “extreme heat” claims, saying the named materials were damaged due to maintenance, construction or other non-heat-related causes.

After failing to reach settlement with State Farm, Caddy filed a civil complaint for breach of contract and the trial, before Judge Marv Tyler, ran through the second week of August.

After numerous witnesses took the stand, the jury withdrew and on Aug. 12, returned a unanimous verdict in Caddy’s favor. The jury awarded Caddy $129,000 for “other damages” –less than requested – and found State Farm breached its contract with her.

At one point during the trial, Caddy’s attorney Doug Mason asked to introduce an exhibit listing today’s costs of those materials; Judge Tyler sustained State Farm attorney Scott Klosterman’s objection that the list was never included in the discovery process.