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A gay kiss spurred violent ouster from bar, lawsuit says

A Boston man is accusing Jeremiah Foley, a member of the family that runs the well-known J.J. Foley's pubs in Boston, of assaulting him and physically throwing him out of the chain's bar in the Leather District because he was kissing another man.

Martin T. Keenan says in a civil lawsuit filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court that Foley grabbed and forcibly removed him from the bar in September 2005 and in the process broke one of Keenan's fingers and caused permanent disfigurement.

The action was "extreme and outrageous in a civilized society," the lawsuit says.

The five-page lawsuit says that Keenan suffered emotional distress and that the broken finger required surgery. The lawsuit did not specify the damages sought by Keenan.

Foley said yesterday that he was unaware of the lawsuit and that he did not remember an incident like the one described. He added that he normally works at J.J. Foley's on East Berkeley Street in the South End.

"That's a long time ago," he said. "I don't recall."

Foley said he has not been served with court papers informing him of the suit, but said he would probably hire a lawyer to handle the case.

He said his family's establishments, which draw a large cross section of people, are open to all, and he doesn't ask or care about his patrons' sexual orientation.

"It's none of my business," Foley said.

He said he occasionally has to remove patrons for "inappropriate behavior," but he did not recall the two men kissing. Asked whether he would allow two men to kiss in one of his establishments, Foley said: "Hell no. What would you think?"

Keenan's lawyer, Adam A. Rowe , declined to elaborate on the lawsuit, which includes charges of negligence, assault and battery, and emotional distress.

"It is what it is," he said. "He was there at the restaurant. He was forcibly removed and suffered injuries that required surgery."

He said the kissing was consensual.

Rowe declined to make his client available to discuss the lawsuit, and Keenan could not be located yesterday by phone or at the address listed in court documents.

The injuries have caused "permanent scarring and disfigurement" and has inhibited his "ability to work and earn income," the lawsuit says. "His ability to enjoy life has been permanently and severely damaged."

No court date has been set.

The J.J. Foley's pubs have been institutions in Boston for years. The Leather District location is typically frequented by a variety of customers, including famous musicians performing in the city.

The South End bar, founded in 1909, has been a storied watering hole frequented by late-shift workers, including cops and reporters from Boston's newspaper row, and such familiar Boston figures as former mayor Raymond L. Flynn.

Matt Viser can be reached at