Plaintiff and brother take witness stand in personal injury case against City of Alton

Christina Stueve Nov. 10, 2011, 9:00am



Plaintiff Matthew Adelsbach took the witness stand Thursday morning in Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian's courtroom in his case against the City of Alton and John Calvin Riddlespriger.

Adelsbach was involved in a near fatal car wreck in 2003 in Alton, after Riddlespriger struck his vehicle on the left side and left the scene. Adelsbach was in a coma for 31 days following the accident.

He is suing the City of Alton and Riddlespriger for an amount that has not yet been specified, but will be more than $50,000.

Adelsbach claims the city should have had a four-way stop installed, instead of a two-way stop at East 20th and Alby streets.

Adelsbach, 37, who claims that he was once the most successful salesman in his company, with a salary of $108,000, was barely coherent in court, as he answered questions from his attorney, Larry Amoni of Chicago.

Adelsbach received his bachelor's degree in 1997 from Illinois State University. He now lives with his mother.

He had suffered a brain injury and other physical injuries from the accident, which left him hospitalized for months, of which he now remembers very little.

His ability to hold a job is hindered by his speech, he said.

"I can't hold a job. I can't work anymore. I wish I could," he said.

"Do you have a girlfriend?" Amoni asked.

"No," he replied.

"Does that bother you?" Amoni asked.

"Yes. I used to always have a girlfriend," he said.

Adelsbach's brother, Michael, 35, testified that the two had a close relationship growing up. They were active in, and good at sports. Both are at least six feet tall with broad shoulders.

"We did everything together," he said. "The only time we had arguments was over who won. Our social life revolved around friends, sports and family."

Amoni asked what happened right after the accident.

Michael Adelsbach was in tears as he described the phone call he received at his office in Chicago that his brother was injured in a car wreck.

He rented an apartment in St. Louis and spent the next several weeks taking care of his comatose brother.

He said that he was once envious of his brother's success, but now wouldn't trust his brother to drive a vehicle.

"I do get frustrated with him, but I have to be reminded that he has a brain injury," Michael Adelsbach said.

"Would you employ your brother," Amoni asked.

"No. I can ask him to do something, and 10 minutes later, he doesn't remember," Michael Adelsbach said.

After the accident, Adelsbach's medical bills were in excess of $400,000, according to testimony.

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. He pulled into the intersection and looked to his right but never looked to his left, Pierce said.

"He was primarily responsible for this accident," Pierce said.

"No engineer ever recommended that this be a four-way stop," he said.

"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."

The courthouse will be closed on Friday in observance of Veteran's Day.

Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday.

The case is Madison County Case Number 04-L-252.

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