Jurors in Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian's courtroom heard opening arguments Tuesday in the case of Matthew Adelsbach, a man who was comatose for 31 days due to a near fatal two-car crash in Alton in 2003.
Adelsbach, 37, is suing the City of Alton and John Calvin Riddlespriger, the driver of the other vehicle, for an amount not yet specified, but will be more than $50,000.
"We're here to determine why Matt had his life turned upside down," Adelsbach's attorney, Larry Amoni, told the jury. "He has no idea what happened to this day."
Riddlespriger had left the scene of the accident, according to testimony.
Adelsbach, who was westbound on East 20th Street in Alton at the intersection of Alby Street, claims the city should have had a four-way stop, instead of a two-way stop.
A picture displayed in court showed that Adelsbach's red, mangled vehicle was struck from the side.
Riddlespriger was driving a 2000 Ford Explorer northbound on Alby Street.
Larry Amoni, Adelsbach's attorney, described his client as a good son, a good brother, and a man with a good-paying job, up until the accident on March 18.
"This is a guy who had too many friends to count, enjoyed his life, enjoyed his job and was looking forward to starting a family," Amoni said.
"We have no idea when this crash occurred, other than Matt is unconscious in his car," he said.
Adelsbach was taken to St. Louis University Hospital.
"For 31 days, his mother sat there watching her son, not knowing if he was going to wake up," Amoni said.
"Adelsbach was unable to move his hands or arm. He had a urinary tract infection, swelling of the groin. He was anemic. He was fed through a tube. His tibia and fibula were injured. Adelsbach still has plates and screws."
Doctors stabilized Adelsbach and transferred him to a hospital in Chicago.
After the accident, Adelsbach's medical bills were in excess of $400,000, according to testimony. His friends were gone. His social life was gone. He held a series of jobs since then, but none of them got off the ground, according to Amoni.
Defense attorney Charles Pierce explained to the jury "there are two sides to every story."
Pierce said Adelsbach was likely on his cell phone as he was a traveling salesman from out of town, and he pulled into the intersection and looked to his right but never looked to his left.
"He was primarily responsible for this accident," Pierce said.
"No engineer ever recommended that this be a four-way stop. You look at how much traffic is on the road. The engineer the city has used for years said to leave the intersection the way it was."
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday.
The case is Madison County Case Number 04-L-252.