A Salem Superior Court jury has concluded that the owner and manager of a Gloucester bar are not liable for the injuries to and subsequent death of a gay Salem man who was severely beaten outside the establishment three years ago.
The same jury did find that brothers John and William Chadwick were liable for the beating of Justin Goodwin, who died two years later at 37, but then concluded that the beating was not the substantial contributing cause to his death and awarded Goodwin's parents no damages.
Old Timer's Tavern owner Michael Favazza and manager Jon Churchill were found not to have any liability. The former bar's license was suspended by the city of Gloucester's Licensing Board in the wake of the beating incident and a subsequent case of serving underage drinkers, and it never reopened after the suspension in June 2009.
The jury returned its verdict late Wednesday afternoon.
"It's a pretty sad state of affairs when somebody goes into a bar to have a good time and comes out bloody and beaten, like Justin did, and that bar is not held responsible," said his lawyer, John Morris, who filed the lawsuit shortly after the April 10, 2009, beating.
Goodwin and his sister alleged that the Chadwicks and other assailants shouted homophobic slurs at Goodwin as they beat and kicked him into unconsciousness in the alley outside the Old Timer's Tavern.
An employee had forced Goodwin and his sister, Kalem, out of the bar after another woman in the bar complained that Justin had assaulted her outside the ladies room, shoving her against a wall.
Once in the alley, other patrons set upon Goodwin.
Goodwin's attorney argued that the bar owed a duty of care to Goodwin, something the jury apparently rejected.
A lawyer for the bar's owner and manager had argued that they had no idea what was happening in the alley after Goodwin was ejected from the bar and thus were not liable for his injuries.
The Chadwick brothers, who are still serving time on criminal charges that they faced after the incident, represented themselves.
Morris said Goodwin's father, Paul Goodwin Sr., was "despondent" over the outcome of the case, which had been watched by gay rights advocacy groups.
Prosecutors and Gloucester police, who filed charges against four men in connection with the beating, had concluded that there was not sufficient evidence of the beating being a hate crime.
A civil rights allegation against the bar in the civil lawsuit was also dismissed during an earlier proceeding.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis may be reached at 978-338-2521 or email@example.com.