A Madison County Jury has awarded an East Alton man $2.3 million in a civil case in which he sued a pizza company after a van he was riding in was hit by a pizza delivery driver. 26 year old Matthew Bruntjen suffered a serious brain injury as a result of the accident in which the driver for Imo's in Bethalto struck the van he was riding in, head-on.
The jury made the ruling and found that Bethalto Pizza, owner of the Imo's franchise is 70-percent responsible in the case, while Imo's Franchising of St. Louis was 30-percent responsible. The plaintiff's attorneys argued that the policies of companies encouraged drivers to drive too fast in order to make their deliveries on time. In the August 2009 accident, Imo's driver 21 year old Kenneth Lyerla of Bethalto was allegedly driving too fast and talking on a cell phone when he swerved to miss the rear end of a car that had stopped to make a turn and then struck a van Bruntjen was riding in head-on on Plegge Boulevard near Ashbrook Street. Bruntjen was struck in the head by a Kirby vacuum box that was in the back of the van, and has had to undergo extensive rehabilitation as a result. The plaintiffs had asked for over $11-million in damages.