The off-duty New Jersey policeman and Iraq war veteran who sustained serious injuries
after being beaten last year following the NHL Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers in South Philadelphia has filed a civil suit against his attacker and the bar that allegedly over-served the assailant just prior to the fight.
Neal Auricchio, a police officer from Woodbridge, N.J., filed his lawsuit Jan. 24 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Glassboro, N.J. resident Dennis Veteri, Paoli, Pa.-based South Philly Bar and Grill, and Philadelphia-based Kenny’s Inc., which does business as South Philly Bar and Grill.
According to the complaint, Auricchio was “viciously” beaten by Veteri while outside of Geno’s Steaks in South Philly following the professional ice hockey game between the Flyers and the Rangers on Jan. 2, 2012.
The beating made news headlines after the incident was caught on cellphone video.
Auricchio, a Rangers fan, is from North Jersey, while Veteri, who resides in South Jersey, roots for the Flyers.
At the time of the attack, the lawsuit states, Veteri was visibly intoxicated and belligerent as a result of having been served “excessive and unlawful amounts of alcohol” while a patron at South Philly Bar and Grill.
The complaint alleges that Veteri’s bar tab after only 20 minutes at the establishment totaled $226.70.
The lawsuit states that following the Winter Classic event at Citizens Bank Park on Jan. 2 last year, the plaintiff and a friend headed over to Geno’s to grab a Philly cheesesteak.
They were both wearing Rangers jerseys at the time.
The defendant and some friends, who were also outside of the cheesesteak place, began to taunt Auricchio and his friend, the complaint reads, an altercation that began when Veteri paid a window washer to spray the plaintiff and his friend with a water bottle.
Veteri then knocked off the plaintiff’s friend’s hat and spit inside of it, the suit states.
The plaintiff attempted to deescalate the situation, although Veteri became more aggressive and started throwing punches at Auricchio and his friend.
Veteri eventually lunged at Auricchio and landed a devastating blow to the plaintiff’s face, which sent Auricchio to the ground where he lost consciousness.
The injury caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries including a left orbital blowout fracture, left eye subconjuctival hemorrhage, corneal abrasion, right cheek laceration, concussion, post concussive symptoms, ocular motility, tinnitus, neurological injuries, and mental and emotional pain and suffering, the complaint states.
The lawsuit contains counts of negligence, assault and battery, and loss of consortium.
The latter was filed on behalf of Maria Auricchio, the plaintiff’s wife and a co-plaintiff in the litigation.
For each count, the plaintiffs seek $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as interest, attorney’s fees and costs.
The plaintiffs are being represented by high-profile Philadelphia personal injury firm Saltz, Mongeluzzi, Barrett & Bendesky, along with lawyers from the New Jersey firm of Gill & Chamas.
Attorney Raymond A. Gill, Jr., of Gill & Chamas, said in a statement that Auricchio is lucky to be alive because of the extensive injuries he suffered at the hands of Veteri.
“He narrowly survived the War in Iraq after two tours of duty, so how could he ever think he might lose his life because a drunken thug didn’t approve the hockey team he supported,” Gill said in his statement. “Fan-on-fan rage has reached epidemic proportions in America and it must stop before lives are lost.”
Andrew Duffy, a lawyer with Saltz Mongeluzzi, said that the punitive damages counts in the case were supported by the “outrageous and well-documented conduct of the defendants.
“A crime like this against anyone, let alone a police officer and Iraqi war veteran who is a Purple Heart recipient, is reprehensible,” Duffy said in a statement. “A common thread in these savage beatings of opposing sports fans around the country is alcohol. The alcohol fuels the idea that opposing fans are the enemy that must be attacked. This attitude has no place in Philadelphia or any other sports town.”
The case ID number is 121203828.