Union foreman sues workers who knocked him out at meeting

Ann Knef Mar. 28, 2007, 7:17am

A union foreman is suing two workers he claims assaulted him outside the Ironworker Local Union Number 392 in East St. Louis earlier this month.

John P. Burge claims he was knocked unconscious when his attacker struck him in the head with his fist, causing him to fall back and strike the side of the union hall building with his head.

Represented by Steven E. Kellogg of the Kellogg Law Firm in Belleville, Burge is seeking in excess of $250,000 in compensatory and punitive damages from Joshua K. Kohring and his brother James W. Kohring, both of Coulterville, as well as the union.

Joshua K. Kohring is the alleged attacker, according to a suit filed March 23 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Burge claims James Kohring lured him outside during an evening meeting at the union hall located at 2995 Kingshighway.

"Burge did not know what James wanted to speak about, but went with him," the complaint states.

"James and his brother had already agreed at that point that Burge, in the words of Joshua, deserved to get his '(expletive) whipped'. Joshua was waiting for his brother James to bring Burge to him on the west side of the union building next to the trash dumpster."

According to the complaint, Joshua and James Kohring worked with Burge at the Coffeen Power Plant prior to the incident. The Kohring brothers, the complaint states, "became disgruntled with Burge apparently over his insistence on following safety regulations."

"Burge was unaware that Joshua, James and apparently several other members of the union had become displeased with Burge," the complaint states.

None of the union members who gathered near the altercation attempted to physically stop it, the complaint states.

Burge was taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment, and due to the severity of his injuries, was transferred to St. Louis University Hospital. He did not regain consciousness until the next day, the complaint states.

He spent six days in the hospital, four of which were in intensive care, the complaint states.

"Burge's skull had been fractured during the attack," the complaint states. "He has suffered permanent injuries to his hearing and taste. Burge still suffers from headaches that are directly related to the battery."

According to the complaint, members of the union were aware of Joshua's and James' propensity for violence.

"Many of them had been previously threatened by the two brothers," the complaint states. "Moreover many of the members of the union knew that Joshua and James wished to do violence to Burge ever since the Coffeen Power Plant incident."

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