FARMINGTON — Brian and Kristi Horne are satisfied with a jury’s verdict that found Silver Eagle Refinery at fault for an explosion that damaged their home in 2009.
“We’re happy it’s over,” Brian Horne said Wednesday after the verdict was returned. “We can now start moving forward with our lives.”
The jury voted 6-2 to award the Hornes $325,000 for noneconomic damages and for the decreased value of their home. Noneconomic damages include the mental and emotional anguish the couple has endured since the blast on Nov. 4, 2009, in Woods Cross.
Six women and two men deliberated almost 3 1/2 hours before returning the verdict. Because it was a civil suit, only six of the jurors had to agree on a verdict.
Roger Bullock, attorney for the refinery, said that he, his staff and refinery officials will have to look at the verdict and “think about it” before deciding whether to appeal.
Bullock did say the jury “worked hard through the process.”
The Hornes claimed the refinery was negligent in the explosion that damaged their home and has had a history of industrial accidents.
They contend their home has been stigmatized by the blast and they fear another explosion, or worse, in the future.
Brian Horne, who is an engineer and a quadriplegic, said the home was custom-built to accommodate his wheelchair.
The Hornes said they spoke to a refinery employee the day after the blast and also wrote a letter in January 2010, reiterating they did not want to return to the home, even if it was repaired. They said they were led to believe the refinery would buy the house.
After the repairs were completed in November 2011, the Hornes put the home on the market, but it has not sold.
Russell Cline, the Hornes attorney, said in his closing remarks on Wednesday the Hornes were entitled to $2 million for non-economic damages, which would cover their emotional and mental trauma.
The house has also depreciated by at least $45,000 due to the stigma of being damaged by the blast, according to trial testimony by an appraiser.
The Hornes built the home with Brian Horne’s needs in mind, Cline said. But after the blast, the Hornes decided they “were not going to put our family at risk” so they chose not to move back in the home.
Bullock said no one has prevented the Hornes from moving back. Neighbors on both sides of the Hornes incurred damage in the blast, but have moved back into their homes following the repairs.
He said the Hornes did not present any evidence to show that Silver Eagle had been negligent and that the blast was an accident.
Bullock said he does not think the Hornes are lying about the emotional and mental trauma they endured but asked why they didn’t seek professional help if it was as bad as they claimed.