In 2009, a 37-year-old Massachusetts man was severely beaten outside of a bar in Gloucester, allegedly because he was gay. After going through extensive surgery to restructure his face following the beating, the man was left blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and had to have his mouth wired shut for two months.
The man’s attackers were criminally charged and are now in prison. The man also filed a civil personal injury lawsuit against the bar, Old Timer’s Tavern, and his four attackers for damages.
However, in March 2011, the Salem man took his own life. According to the man’s lawyers, he killed himself because of the very difficult road to recovery he faced, which he documented in journals. His family members told reporters that the man was never the same after the beating.
In the wake of his death, the man’s family is seeking to add a wrongful death claim to the civil lawsuit. Now it will be up to a judge to determine if a jury should hear the wrongful death claim in the case.
Ultimately, lawyers for the man’s family will have to demonstrate a sufficient link between the 2009 beating and the man’s subsequent suicide. It appears that the man’s journals, which were found after his death, will be heavily relied upon as evidence.
Massachusetts has become one of the most progressive states in the country when it comes to gay rights and protections. In the 1980s, Massachusetts added sexual orientation to its hate crime and anti-discrimination laws, and in 2004, the state became the first to approve same-sex marriage.
Sources: Edge On the Net, “Mass. Trial for Gay Bashing, Suicide Begins,” Jason St. Amand, April 5, 2012; Queerty, “Civil Trial Begins In Case Of Man So Brutally Gay-Bashed He Committed Suicide Two Years Later,” Evan Mulvihill, April 5, 2012