Pizza delivery driver causes accident and injuries, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Jun. 9, 2010, 7:58am

A Madison County man claims he sustained multiple fractures after a pizza delivery driver hit the vehicle in which he rode head on.

Matthew Bruntjen filed a lawsuit June 1 in Madison County Circuit Court against Bethalto Pizza, Kenneth Lyerla, Lisa Lyerla, Jeremiah Greene, Jason Yelton, Imo's Franchising, Metro East Distributing and Leonard Cummings Jr.

Bruntjen claims he rode in a 1995 GMC Safari van Greene drove west on Erwin Plegge Boulevard at its intersection with Ashbrook Street on Aug. 17 when Kenneth Lyerla, a pizza delivery driver for Bethalto Pizza, struck the van.

Because of the accident, Bruntjen suffered a left temporal bone fracture with a small epidural hematoma and left temporal lobe contusion; extensive fractures involving his skull base, bilateral petrous temporal bones and the left orbit; extensive subcutaneous emphysema with pneumomediasinum and bilateral pneumothoraces; and bilateral pulmonary contusions, lower lobe collapse and small pneumothoraces, according to the complaint. In addition, he suffered extensive subcutaneous emphysema, pneumomediastinum and pneumoperitoneum, a distended stomach and a focally dilated loop of the colon, the suit states.

To assist with Bruntjen's breathing, doctors performed a tracheotomy and fixed a larynx fracture, the complaint says. Because of the collision, Bruntjen claims he also incurred medical costs, has been unable to work and will continue to have trouble holding gainful employment.

Bruntjen partially blames Kenneth Lyerla for causing the collision, saying he negligently drove too fast, failed to maintain control of his vehicle, failed to bring his vehicle to a stop behind another vehicle making a left-hand turn, allowed his vehicle to travel into the oncoming lane of traffic, allowed himself to become distracted by his cell phone and/or his car radio, failed to monitor the flow of traffic around him to allow himself sufficient time to stop and concerned himself more with the timely delivery of pizza than with traffic safety.

Imo's Franchising, which established policies and procedures for Bethalto Pizza, negligently allowed Kenneth Lyerla to drive a motor vehicle on its behalf without first ascertaining whether he would be a safe driver, created an environment for delivery drivers that put timely delivery of food ahead of public safety and encouraged its drivers to make a timely food delivery even at the safety of the public, according to the complaint.

Lisa Lyerla owned the vehicle Kenneth Lyerla drove at the time of the collision while Cummings insured the vehicle. Bruntjen named them as defendants because they negligently entrusted their vehicle to a driver who they knew to be unable to safely operate a vehicle, allowed their vehicle to be driven by someone who they knew would frequently be distracted and allowed their vehicle to be driven in an environment where the timely delivery of food products would be put ahead of public safety, the suit states.

Greene negligently drove too fast; failed to maintain control of the vehicle; failed to bring his vehicle to a stop to avoid a collision; allowed himself to become distracted by a cell phone, conversations with other passengers or his car radio; failed to monitor the flow of traffic around him; and drove a vehicle with uncontained cargo that was liable to strike passengers in the event of a collision, the complaint says.

Yelton, who owned the van in which Bruntjen rode, and Metro East, who Yelton worked for, were also partially responsible for Bruntjen's injuries, he claims, because he says they allowed their vehicle to be used to transport passengers and unsecured cargo in the same passenger compartment, failed to make sure that all cargo was secure before allowing the vehicle to be operated, failed to instruct the operator of the vehicle to firmly secure all cargo in the passenger compartment and allowed their vehicle to be driven by someone who was unable to safely operate the vehicle.

In his nine-count complaint, Bruntjen is seeking a judgment of more than $450,000, plus costs.

Charles W. Armbruster III and Michael T. Blotevogel of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt and Blotevogel in Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-577.

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