RUTLAND (AP) - A Vermont utility that was ordered to pay $1 million to a family over a communications tower asked for a new trial or a judge to overturn verdict.
The Vermont Electric Power Co., or VELCO, says the central issue in the case should have been decided by a judge, not a jury.
Earlier this month, a Rutland County jury awarded $100,000 in compensation and $900,000 in punitive damages to Olga Julinska and Sergei Kniazev, a couple who said they were forced from their home by a VELCO communications tower that was built on their property in Wells.
The two say they moved in part because they worried about the health effects of living so close to the antenna.
A radio tower was already on the site when the couple bought the home for $390,000 in 2007. But the new tower installed in fall 2012 was wider and had the capacity to emanate what the family argued were dangerous levels of microwaves, the Rutland Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1dL0FdK).
The certificate of public good granted by the state Public Service Board also allowed VELCO around-the-clock access to the family's home.
Burlington attorney David Boyd argued in VELCO's motion for a new trial or amended judgment that Judge William Cohen, not a jury, should have decided the issues related to where the tower was built.
"The Vermont Supreme Court recently affirmed the interpretation of 'the scope of (an) easement as a matter of law' rejecting an argument that the (lower) court 'should instead have submitted it to the jury,'" wrote Boyd. He also said jurors were not given clear instructions, particularly about the easement, before they deliberated.
The family's attorney said he plans to file an objection to the utility's request.
"The judge rejected this same argument before the trial and during it. We expect he'll reject this one too," said Robert Woolmington of Manchester.
VELCO may appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court, said VELCO Vice President Kerrick Johnson.