SALEM — The MBTA and the family of Samantha Mattei agree on one thing.
When a Green Line trolley operated by a T driver who was texting his girlfriend slammed into another subway on May 8, 2009, the Salem woman was injured and the MBTA was at fault.
The questions that have dominated a trial in Lawrence Superior Court for the last two weeks, and which are now in the hands of a jury, are how serious were Mattei’s injuries and how much compensation she deserves.
Lawyers for Mattei and for the MBTA made their closing arguments yesterday in the civil case, one of many lawsuits that came out of the highly publicized crash that injured dozens of people.
Mattei’s attorney, John DeSimone, requested that the jury award her $8.6 million for past and future medical expenses and for lost wages, plus an unspecified amount for pain and suffering and a “reduction of loss of enjoyment of life.”
DeSimone said Mattei, who is now 23, suffered a traumatic brain injury when she slammed head first into a metal handrail on the subway and then fell again and hit her head on the floor. As pictures of a bandaged Mattei and the accident scene played on a screen behind him, DeSimone said Mattei is one of the “miserable minority” of traumatic brain injury victims who will never make a full recovery.
DeSimone said Mattei has a high IQ and was a star chemistry student at Merrimack College. Now, he said, she has dropped out of college and needs constant care at home.
Mattei has spent time using a wheelchair and cane and suffers a variety of ill effects from post-concussion syndrome, including seizures, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, migraine headaches, and concentration problems, he said.
“What this accident has done is taken away her potential,” he said.