Six years ago, the owner and employees of a McHenry County firm, D.S. Ironworks, Inc., were attacked by officers and members of the Indiana Local 395 of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers union.
They were building a steel frame school building for the Dyer Baptist Church.
Those injured took a giant step toward winning monetary damages January 5th in a Federal Court ruling made public January 6th–the sixth anniversay of the violent union attack, described as “old school” in plea agreements signed by two of the defenants.
Below is much of the decision of Federal Circuit Court Judge Judge Philip Simon coincerning the disputes in a case in which the plaintiffs are represented by Woodstock attorney Robert Hanlon and Virginia attorney Michael E. Avakian:
D5 IRON WORKS, INC., RICHARD
LINDNER, SCOTT KUDINGO, BILL
TONNESEN, THE ESTATE OF JOE WEIL,
and HARRY HARPER
LOCAL 395 IRONWORKERS, AFL-CIO,
THOMAS WILLIAMSON, SR., SEAN
GRISWALD, JEFFREY VEACH, JOSEPH
UPCHURCH, and KNOWN AND
Summary of the Suit
This litigation arises from an ugly incident of labor violence that occurred on January 7, 2016, in which plaintiffs Richard Lindner, Scott Kudingo, Bill Tonnesen, Joe Weil and Harry Harper, all ironworkers and employees of plaintiff D5 Iron Works, Inc., were set upon by defendants Thomas Williamson, Sr., Jeffrey Veach and other members of defendant Ironworkers Local 395.
The matter has languished for more than five years, largely due to the case being stayed during the pendency of a related criminal case against defendants Jeffrey Veach and Thomas Williamson, Sr.
Although the allegations are plainly serious, the First Amended Complaint is a blunderbuss of more than twenty counts involving a variety of sometimes contradictory theories. Presently before me are a slew of motions for summary judgment relating to many of those counts.
Here is how the Judge describes Local 355 and its leaders:
Local 395 is comprised of approximately 854 members.
At all times relevant to the allegations of the First Amended Complaint, Tom Williamson, Sr. was a Business Agent
with Local 395, and Jeffrey Veach was a Business Agent, President, and Organizer of Local 395.
Setting the Scene – January 6, 2016
On January 6, 2016, D5 mobilized to perform the Plum Creek contract.
Equipment and personnel were driven from Woodstock, Illinois to Dyer, Indiana. D5 owner Richard Lindner was in charge.
Scott Kudingo, Bill Tonnesen, and Harry Harper are all employees of D5.
Scott Kudingo was the crane operator.
Harry Harper was a welder.
Plaintiffs arrived to work on the job site at 11:00 a.m. on January 6, 2016.
They offloaded structural steel and set machines in place to begin steel erection.
That’s when Defendant Williamson entered the scene walking onto the job site and requesting that plaintiff Lindner, who was on a manlift, sign a labor agreement with Local 395.
Lindner declined the invitation to sign a union contract, whereupon Williamson became irate and yelled at Lindner.
Despite being told to leave the premises, Williamson refused to depart.
At no time did Dyer Baptist Church authorize Local 395 to be on the job site.
Nonetheless, Williamson proceeded to the Dyer Baptist Church building, where he spoke with an assistant pastor named Peter Knezevich.
Williamson told Pastor Knezevich that the men working on the job site were not part of the Ironworkers union, and that it was unethical for the church to employ non-union workers.
Pastor Knezevich testified in his deposition that because the conversation with Williamson left him feeling “uneasy” and that “something bad was coming,” he watched Williamson’s departure through the window of the church.
Although Williamson’s demeanor was not at all threatening, Pastor Knezevich concluded from Williamson’s tone, what he said, and what he implied, that Williamson had communicated that “this is not the end of things, I don’t want those people out there, and something’s going to happen so that you understand clearly that we don’t want them out there.”
Pastor Knezevich saw Williamson get into a car, and drive it around the parking lot adjacent to the worksite, stopping at different angles, which suggested to Knezevich that Williamson was taking pictures.