Supreme Court upholds $730K judgment in burnout
The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a $730,000 judgment against the state after a burnout meant to eliminate fuel available to a fire near Drummond in 2000 burned over privately owned ranchland.
Fred, Joan and Vicki Weaver sued the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation after a team of state-led firefighters from Florida set burnout operations on the Ryan Gulch Fire, causing 900 acres of their ranch and timber land to burn.
The lawsuit claimed the state "negligently started the back-burn fire in high wind conditions without adequate means of control and/or suppression."
A jury in Granite County ruled in the Weavers' favor last year and the Supreme Court upheld the verdict in an opinion filed Tuesday.