Jury finds Alon USA negligent, awards $350,000 in damages

A 118th District Court jury awarded three Howard County residents a total of more than $350,000 for property repair and medical expenses incurred as a result of the February 2008 Alon Refinery explosion.The jury verdict came at the end of a week-long civil trial Friday afternoon.Plaintiffs Beverly Smithie and Ron and Debra Walker sued Alon USA to recoup property and medical expenses they sustained from the explosion, which occurred Feb. 18, 2008.The jury found that Alon had been negligent in assisting the plaintiffs and awarded the following damages:• Smithie will receive $236,605 for property damage and $8,400 for medical expenses.• The Walkers will receive $105,200 for property damage and $10,200 for medical expenses.However, the jury declined to find Alon “grossly negligent” in their actions. A finding of gross negligence would have opened the door for Smithie and Walkers to receive “exemplary” damages, which would have raised the final dollar amount of the judgment considerably.