JUSTICE SYSTEM

Civil Trial Begins In Case Of Man So Brutally Gay-Bashed He Committed Suicide Two Years Later

In 2009, Justin Goodwin was so severely gay-bashed outside a bar in Gloucester, Massachusetts that, following ten hours of surgery, he ended up blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and with a mouth that needed to be wired shut for two months.

Last year, he tragically committed suicide, reports the Salem News. His lawyers say he took his own life because of his difficult recovery from the incident, stating that he was surrounded by journals he’d kept about getting back to health. While the four men who attacked him have been criminally convicted (but not of a hate crime) and are behind bars now, his family is proceeding with a civil case to seek justice—and damages—for Goodwin’s pain.

Writes the News:

His family and lawyers say he was never the same after the beating, touched off after he went to the aid of his sister when she got into a fight in the bar.

Goodwin died of a lethal mixture of prescription drugs he injected on March 31, 2011.

Shortly after the beating, Goodwin filed a civil rights lawsuit against the bar’s owners and his assailants.

After Goodwin’s death, his father, Paul Goodwin Sr., took over the case as executor of his son’s estate. Lawyers for the Goodwins sought to add a wrongful death count.

Judge David Lowy will hear arguments today on whether to allow the jury to consider that.

The lawsuit names the bar (under its legal name Sportsmans Pub Inc.); former owner Michael Favazza; former manager Jon Churchill; four men who were eventually charged criminally and convicted, Jonathan and William Chadwick, John Curley, and Mark Elwell; and another alleged participant, James Hiland.

The Old Timer’s Tavern lost its license for 30 days and later shut down.

A wrongful death count would probably allow for more civil damages to be collected, despite the fact that these assaulters have already been criminally convicted and are serving out their two-year-plus sentences in jail. The criminal conviction was not considered a hate crime, which could have been a point of distress for Goodwin in his difficult recovery and eventual suicide.

Should the court look to collect more damages against the bar’s owners and the perpetrating patrons, or should it let the criminal charges be enough punishment?