Reporting Michael Rosenfield
BOSTON (CBS) – Samantha Mattei was one of the dozens of T riders injured in a Green Line crash in 2009.
The 23-year-old was flung from her seat into a pole and sustained a traumatic brain injury. The operator was texting his girlfriend at the time of the crash and pleaded guilty to gross negligence.
Her family sued and asked for some $8 million. But a jury this week only awarded her $460,000.
“I don’t understand where they came up with that figure,” said Samantha’s father Fred.
Medical bills have piled up. She lost a college scholarship because she had to drop out.
The family says the jury verdict will not solve a bleak financial picture.
“Right now what was awarded after the lawyer fees, the witnesses, and part of the medical bills, it’s actually a negative number,” said Fred Mattei. “I’m in debt.”
In court, attorneys for the MBTA argued Samantha had serious medical issues including anxiety and panic attacks before the crash, and she suffers from a somatoform disorder, where pain is felt even though there is no physical cause for it.
Attorney John Bonistalli, who represented the MBTA, told WBZ-TV it was a “very fair verdict”.
“I think the case was fairly presented,” said Bonistalli. “They understood the issues.”
In a statement, the MBTA said: “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.”
Today, Samantha’s family says her cognitive functions are poor, and she has sensitivities to light and noise.
She was not up for answering questions at her home Tuesday night. Her dad says he worries about how she will be taken care of down the road.
“My main concern is to provide the care my daughter is going to need and at this point I have no idea what we’re going to do to achieve that end,” said Fred Mattei.