Jury listens to day four of testimony in case involving Imo's pizza delivery driver

Christina Stueve Dec. 12, 2011, 12:00am



Madison County jurors listened to the fourth day of arguments Friday in a trial involving a 2009 auto accident caused by an Imo's pizza delivery driver.

Plaintiff Matthew Bruntjen was a passenger in a 1995 GMC Safari van that was struck by defendant Kenneth Lyerla's vehicle on Aug. 17, 2009. Lyerla was delivering pizza for co-defendant Bethalto Pizza, an Imo's franchise, at the time of the accident.

Lyerla, who has admitted negligence for the accident, had driven his car into the oncoming lane at the intersection of Erwin Plegge Road and Ashbrook Street in Bethalto while making the delivery.

Bruntjen, a former vacuum cleaner salesman, sustained brain injuries from being hit by a vacuum inside the van.

Lyerla was dismissed from the case on Friday, following negotiations between both sets of attorneys.

Plaintiff's attorney Charles Armbruster hopes to prove Imo's was responsible for the accident.

Imo's Pizza owner Margaret Imo testified on Friday. She looked straight at the jury several times during her testimony.

"I'm sick about the accident," Imo said. "I feel very bad about the accident."

Armbruster asked Imo if her company has requirements for their delivery drivers.

"There are some things you mandate?" he said.

"We have a trademark," she said. "We have a business to protect."

Bethalto Pizza owner Annette Wilson told the jury it is difficult to be a woman in business.

"You're admitting that as a store owner, you're responsible for the accident?" said defense attorney James Craney.

"Yes, I am," she said.

Craney asked Bruntjen's former supervisor Jason Yelton if Bruntjen was a good vacuum cleaner salesman.

Bruntjen sold three vacuum cleaners in June, eight in July and four in August leading up to the accident, Yelton testified.

"Matt was inconsistent," he said. "Some days he came in sharp and focused and on other days, he came in less sharp and focused. I could apply this description to anybody."

After the accident, Yelton described Bruntjen as nervous and self-conscious from a tracheotomy and drooling.

Rehabilitation counselor James England, a witness for the defense, testified Bruntjen's best job opportunity would be working for his dad, since Bruntjen had dropped out of GED classes several times.

"If a person doesn't get his GED, he'll be limited," England said.

Armbruster told England that dropping out of high school doesn't mean a person cannot have a successful career.

"A traumatic brain injury affects work ability," Armbruster said.

"Other than Matt's father, who do you think is going to give him a job that will pay him a living wage?"

Closing arguments are expected Monday.

Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian presides.

More News