A police photo of the accident scene.
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Supreme Court Wednesday let stand a ruling by the Madison County Circuit Court that ordered Imo’s Franchising Inc., a St. Louis area pizza restaurant, and Imo’s Bethalto store to pay about $2.4 million to a man injured in 2009 when an Imo’s delivery driver crossed the center line and crashed head-on into a van.
An eyewitness testified the Imo’s driver was “flying down the road” immediately before the crash. One of the van passengers, Matthew Bruntjen of East Alton, suffered a brain injury in the collision; another passenger suffered a broken leg but settled her case before trial.
In December 2009, Bruntjen’s case went to jury trial in front of Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian. In August 2014, the Appellate Court in Mount Vernon affirmed the $2.2 million verdict. Imo’s sought review by the Illinois Supreme Court, which refused to hear the appeal Wednesday.
“Although Imo’s disqualified delivery drivers who had three moving violations in an 18-month period and required local stores to monitor drivers’ records, no one checked this driver’s record,” said attorney Charles Armbruster, who represented Bruntjen at trial. “If they had looked at the information that they had in their own files, they would have found that their driver had three moving violations and should have been disqualified before the collision.”
Bruntjen remains disabled more than five years after the accident.
“This decision affirms that the citizens of Madison County expect safe driving from all motorists, and especially from professional delivery drivers,” Armbruster said
Roy Dripps and Michael Blotevogel also represented Bruntjen on the appeal. The case against the Imo’s driver, Kenneth Lyerla, is pending in Madison County Circuit Court.