Defendants on hook for $2.3 million say injured man should not be allowed double recovery

By Ann Maher | Mar 25, 2014


Pizza vendors who were hit with a $2.3 million personal injury verdict in Madison County in 2011 are intervening in a new lawsuit the injured party filed over the same accident.

They argue that the recipient of the jury award should not be allowed double recovery for the same alleged injuries.

Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth on Feb. 28 granted motions for intervention brought by Bethalto Pizza and Imo’s Franchising, who seek setoffs of any award plaintiff Matthew Bruntjen may recover from pizza deliverer Kenneth Lyerla and his mother Lisa Lyerla in the new action.

Bruntjen was awarded $2,284,500.68 in a damages-only trial that ended Dec. 13, 2011, over an accident he was involved in with Lyerla in 2009. Lylerla admitted fault for the accident, but he was dropped from the case that went to trial.

The jury found that Bethalto Pizza, which employed Lyerla, was 70 percent liable in the amount of $1.6 million. Imo’s was found 30 percent liable and was ordered to pay $685,350. The case is on appeal at the Fifth District. Oral arguments were held June 13.

After Bethalto and Imo’s appealed, Bruntjen filed suit against the Lyerlas, seeking damages for the same injuries alleged in the original complaint.

“To the extent Bruntjen obtains a judgment for damages against Kenneth Lyerla and/or Lisa Lyerla in this action, Bethalto (and Imo’s) is entitled to a setoff in an equal amount so that Bruntjen may not obtain an impermissible double recovery for the same alleged injuries and damages, and resulting from any settlement or judgment,” the complaints in intervention state.

Both Bethalto and Imo’s had earlier filed counterclaims against the Lyerlas, which have been consolidated into the intervention claims.

Bethalto is represented by Gordon Broom, Theodore J. MacDonald, Jr. and Michael Young of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville.

Imo’s is represented by Russell Scott of the Greesfelder firm in Belleville.

Charles Armbruster of Alton represents Bruntjen.

Michael Hobin of Edwardsville represents the Lyerlas.

Ruth has stayed the case pending the outcome of the Fifth District decision.

Madison County case number 12-L-1472

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