Woodbridge New Jersey Police Officer Neal Auricchio, who suffers permanent injuries resulting from the vicious beating at the hands of a drunken Flyers’ fan following last year’s NHL Winter Classic between the Flyers and New York Rangers, today filed a civil lawsuit against his confessed attacker and the Philadelphia bar that allegedly illegally served the assailant drink after drink long after he was intoxicated and right before the incident.
Patrolman Auricchio, 31, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Dennis Veteri, of Glassboro, N.J., and the South Philly Bar & Grill, along with its owner, Kenny’s Inc., of Philadelphia. According to the Complaint (No. 3828), Auricchio and a friend were waiting in line for a post-game sandwich at Geno’s steaks in South Philly when a belligerent Veteri confronted and then beat him because the unarmed, off-duty cop and decorated Iraq War veteran was wearing a Rangers jersey. Eyewitnesses, included those who videotaped the incident, observed Veteri repeatedly punch and kick the officer’s head and body until he lost consciousness. Only 20 minutes before the sidewalk savagery Veteri paid a $226.70 bar bill at nearby South Philly Bar & Grill, according to the Complaint. Under Pennsylvania’s liquor liability law (also known as the Dram Shop Act), a bar is prohibited from serving a visibly intoxicated person.
“Officer Auricchio is lucky to be alive today,” said attorney Raymond A. Gill, Jr., of the New Jersey law firm of Gill & Chamas, LLC, who filed the Complaint along with co-counsel from the Philadelphia firm of Saltz, Mongeluzzi & Bendesky, P.C. “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 of the hockey team he supported? Fan-on-fan rage has reached epidemic proportions in America and it must stop before lives are lost.”
Attorney Andrew R. Duffy, of SMB, said the counts seeking punitive damages 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. 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.”