By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/12/12
Almost two years to the date he was shot six times at point blank range during an altercation in the Old City section of Philadelphia, former La Salle College High and Villanova University lacrosse standout Eddie DiDonato has filed a civil lawsuit against Gerald Ung and five other parties.
The complaint was filed December 30, 2011, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The incident, which occurred Jan. 17, 2010, left DiDonato in critical condition for weeks. He spent two months in the hospital and was left with several serious long term injuries.
Last February Ung was found not guilty of charges of attempted homicide and other offenses.
Named along with Ung, a Temple Law student at the time of the incident and a native of Reston, Va., were Philadelphia dram shops (restaurants where alcohol is served) frequented by DiDonato and his friends as well as Ung and his friends on Jan. 16-17. The businesses named in the suit are Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Khyber Pass Pub, Paradigm Restaurant & Bar, Field House Sports Bar, and Lucy’s Hat Shop Restaurant.
DiDonato, of Blue Bell, is represented by Robert J. Mongeluzzi, a founding partner of Saltz Mongeluzzi Barrett & Bendesky.
The complaint alleges that Eulogy Tavern and Khyber Pass served alcohol to Ung, even though “he was in a visibly intoxicated condition.” According to the complaint, this was “in direct violation of the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Act” and “a direct and proximate cause of Plaintiff’s injuries.”
According to the complaint, DiDonato “suffered serious and debilitating injuries….” as a result of the shootings at 4th and Merket streets at 2:20 a.m., Jan. 17.
“The first issue that everybody needs to understand is that the burden of proof required in a criminal case is entirely different than that of a civil case,” said Mongeluzzi. “One must prove in a criminal case the facts beyond a reasonable doubt; in a civil case you rely on the preponderance of the evidence.”
“The jury may have acquitted Mr. Ung, and yet may have believed he had committed a crime – but not beyond a reasonable doubt.”
One of the counts in the complaint alleges negligence by Ung, saying even if he had some right of self-defense he “act[ed] with excessive and unreasonable force.”
Mongeluzzi said that the videotapes of the incident – some of which have been seen countless times on the Internet since the day of the shootings – will help DiDonato’s case.
“We have the videotapes of the events and Eddie DiDonato is not an aggressor in any way,” Mongeluzzi said. “In fact he was a peacemaker who was shot six times by Mr. Ung. He did nothing to escalate the tensions and I believe the jury will find that Mr. Ung is responsible.”
“The second issue is that when we look at the film, what is clear is that guns and alcohol do not mix.”
In the complaint, it also alleges that Eulogy Belgian Tavern, Lucy’s Hat Shop, Paradigm Restaurant & Bar, and Field House Sports Bar served alcohol to two of DiDonato’s friends, Thomas Kelly and Andrew DiLoretto, who were visibly intoxicated.
“Mr. Ung was allowed to drink beyond intoxication and if these men had not been intoxicated, I don’t think this tragedy would have taken place.”
Mongeluzzi was the lawyer in a case that netted the largest pot in a dram shop suit, 75,000,000.
“With the license to serve comes the responsibility to serve responsibly. Eddie is entitled to his day in court with his lawyers of choice. I feel a jury in Philadelphia civil court will serve the justice he deserves.”
The DiDonato family was not immediately available for comment.
For further discussion of the Civil suit filed, see AbovetheLaw.com.
DiDonato’s will and spirit helped him recover and become the No. 1 story of 2010 for Phillylacrosse.com.
DiDonato update: Best friend says shooting victim is squeezing his hand and that his fight for life is a ‘miracle’
For complete coverage of the trial search DiDonato on Phillylacrosse.com