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Boston firefighter, bar sued over beating allegations

Firefighter Robert Buckley has been charged with assault and battery on a person over 60 causing serious bodily injury


Photo/Boston Fire Department

By Sean Philip Cotter
Boston Herald

BOSTON — The 68-year-old man who ended up in the hospital following a severe beating is suing the Boston firefighter authorities say did it and the Faneuil Hall bar it happened near.

Gary Steele, the man who was injured, and his wife, Maribeth Steele, filed the suit this week in Suffolk Superior Court, alleging negligence by J.J. Donovan’s Tavern and by Robert Buckley, the man who is charged with beating him.

Prosecutors, who’ve charged Buckley with assault and battery on a person over 60 causing serious bodily injury, have said that was Steele was “with relatives for a family celebration” outside J.J. Donovan’s Tavern in the Faneuil Hall market area the wee hours of Sunday morning when a man attacked him, throwing him to the ground and causing “serious injuries.”

Police later tracked the assailant down and identified him as Buckley, the DA’s office has said.

Buckley, a Boston firefighter, is on leave from the department following the allegations.

Per the complaint filed in the lawsuit, the family was out celebrating the Steeles’ daughter’s engagement when “there was an altercation among J J Donovan’s patrons that began in the tavern and spilled outside.”

The suit says Gary Steele wasn’t part of it, but that when it happened, the bar employees closed the place and kicked everyone out.

That, per the suit, is when the beating happened.

Thomas Flaws, the attorney representing the Steeles, who also have brought on well-known Boston PR outfit Regan Communications, said a suit like this is the best way to figure out quite what happened.

“The family wants answers,” said Flaws, a lawyer with Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. He said they’re looking for surveillance footage and other documentation of the night.

The attorney representing Buckley in the ongoing related criminal case declined to comment.

No one able to comment for the bar could be reached on Tuesday.

Flaws, who said the family was grateful for the care Gary Steele received at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Herald that Steele was on a ventilator for a time following the beating, and now is working on walking again. The suit describes the injuries as “catastrophic,” and prosecutors said they could affect Steele for the rest of his life.

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