The father of an Edwardsville high school student testified Tuesday morning that his family has incurred more than $100,000 in treatment costs since a bike accident nearly four years ago severely injured his son.
A damages-only trial against Plocher Construction Company, into its second day in Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder’s court, seeks compensation for the family of Trevor Brady on negligence and conscious disregard for safety grounds.
The Bradys’ lawsuit alleges that Trevor, then 13 years old, came into violent collision with angle irons that had been suspended across the sidewalk on the north side of the 400 block of St. Louis Street on March 5, 2010, while on his way to Lincoln Middle School. He suffered head, face, jaw, teeth, nose, mouth and nasal cavity injuries which resulted in disfigurement, the suit claims.
St. Louis attorney Richard Witzel represents the plaintiffs.
Plocher was constructing the law firm of Byron Carlson Petri & Kalb at 411 St. Louis St. at the time of the incident.
Brian Brady said he was notified that his son was in an accident by an Edwardsville police officer. When he saw Trevor at Anderson Hospital’s emergency room he was screaming and in so much pain that “he wanted to die.”
As a result of the accident, Brian Brady said his son’s personality, speech and interaction with people has changed. Among other things, he has lost some sensation on the right side of his face, his breathing is different and he is no longer participating in swimming or cross country. He has had plastic and oral surgery and has had more than 60 visits to treating physicians.
On cross examination, defense attorney David Simkins of St. Louis pointed out that Trevor returned to school two weeks after the accident and that he was power washing his house with his father five weeks after the accident. He also showed a photograph of Trevor riding a motorcycle post-accident.
Simkins said that Trevor, now a senior in high school, has maintained good grades. He showed a slide of his ACT test results, indicating Trevor scored a perfect 36 in math. In other disciplines his scores were 33 and 34.
One of the key witnesses testifying Tuesday morning was site supervisor Damien Bolen.
He explained that before Trevor’s accident he and a laborer had carried two 20-foot angle iron beams, one at a time, from a position inside a construction fence onto a backhoe scoop for the purpose of moving them to the rear of the construction site.
Photograph exhibits of the scene showed the beams overhanging into the sidewalk path. The photo also showed that barricades were in front of the beams.
Trevor collided with the beams, each weighing approximately 240 pounds while riding his bike to Lincoln Middle School at about 8 a.m. that day, according to the complaint.
Bolen said he left the front of the building site facing St. Louis Street for a couple of minutes to go to the north side, or rear of the building, when others at the site “were hollering and told me to come around.”
“What did they tell you?” asked Witzel.
“Just, ‘Damien, hurry up.’ Come out front.”
Under questioning from Witzel, Bolen said at first that he knew at the time he left the front to instruct a delivery truck driver in the rear that approximately two feet of angle iron bars were hanging over the sidewalk.
That prompted Witzel to refer back to an affidavit Bolen signed in July in which he stated that he did not realize the beams were hanging over into the sidewalk during the time he went to talk to the delivery truck driver.
A sidebar ensued, and Crowder allowed the question to stand.
Bolen clarified that he did not realize at the time that the beams were hanging over onto the sidewalk.
He testified that the distance between the building line and property line was 18 feet in the position where the backhoe was parked.
Witzel pointed out that either he or the laborer would have had to have stood on the sidewalk.
“You didn’t know it was overhanging?” Witzel asked.
“I didn’t realize it at the time,” Bolen said.
Bolen also said that barricades were not present at the time of the incident, but went up later.