"His big fear is that he will be like this forever" man suing Detroit for pothole claims severe brain injury

$10M lawsuit against the city of Detroit
Posted at 12:19 AM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 00:19:34-04

DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — A 34-year-old software engineer says right now he can not read, work or see clearly 6 months after he crashed an electric scooter into a pothole in Detroit. Justin Almeida is now suing the city for 10 million dollars.

It was a summers night in Midtown Detroit. Almeida, visiting from California was taking a bird scooter around town when he suddenly sunk into a pothole and slammed into the pavement.

“My stomach just sank,” says his wife Tori Porell who was in California when she got the call her husband’s fractured his skull and broke several bones in his face. She says the real trauma came days later.

“He wasn’t remembering talking to me,” says Porell who claims her husband was suffering from memory loss.

It became glaringly apparent that the injury was causing damage to his brain. Now, six months later Almeida is only reading at a 4th grade level, and he almost always has double vision preventing him from driving, watching TV, or using a computer according to his wife.

“His work as a software engineer involves looking at lots of little lines of code and like moving around puzzles and software architecture and we don’t know if that’s work he will ever be able to do again,” says Porell.

“It’s tragic when you see what could have been prevented,” says Gerald Posner the attorney representing Almeida.

Posner says the pothole his client fell into was 2 feet by 2 and a half feet wide and six inches deep.

“All the city had to do was to fulfill its statutory obligation to keep the street reasonably safe and fit for travel, and it didn’t,” says Posner.

Under Michigan law the state has 30 days to patch a pothole when a problem is reported. Posner does not know if the City was made aware of the pothole but says people living in the area claim the pothole was there for at least six months, and remained three months after the crash.

7 Action News reached out to the city of Detroit, but we are told officials can not comment on pending litigation.

In the meantime, Porell says her husband remains in therapy 5 hours a day three days a week and she leaves us with this warning.

“It might not look cool to be wearing a helmet, but its way less cool to have someone teaching you how to read again so definitely definitely, protect your head.”