A Salem woman was awarded nearly $500,000 yesterday for suffering injuries in a May 8, 2009 Green Line crash that was caused by a distracted MBTA driver, who admitted to texting his girlfriend while operating a trolley.
Samantha Mattei, 23, was awarded $461,902; just a sliver of the $8.6 million that her attorneys requested. Her father, Fred Mattei, told Metro today that his family is "shocked" by the ruling.
"We can’t understand where they came up with the figure. Our attorneys presented a good case outlining what she needs for help. She’s been under care since 2009," said Mattei.
Mattei said she suffered a permanent and severe traumatic brain injury when her head hit a metal handrail in the trolley, and then fell again and hit her head of the floor. The MBTA's defense attorney claimed that Mattei's injuries and damages were not related to the accident, and that she had been diagnosed with anxiety, depression and panic attacks before the crash as well as condition called somatoform disorder, which can cause bodily symptons that cannot be traced to any physical cause.
"She's kind of upset, but we don't know where to go from here. We're going to be losing support. We have people that come help her get to appointments. She's been suffering seizures. She can't really be left alone," said Mattei, adding that it will be difficult for he and his wife, who are Samantha's primary care givers, to work once they lose professional assistance.
"It was a shock. I think everybody, including (the MBTA) was taken aback," he said.
When asked for comment on the lawsuit, MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email, "We thank the jury for its careful consideration of all the evidence and testimony in this case. We believe the jurors’ decision was a fair and just one."