Two men acquitted last month on assault charges regarding an incident outside a contentious town hall forum in 2009 were named Friday in a civil suit.

Kenneth Gladney filed the case against Service Employees International Union members Elston McCowan of St. Louis and Perry Molens of De Soto, as well as SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and local President Tom Balanoff.

Gladney was selling "Don't Tread on Me" buttons and flags outside the south St. Louis County forum, called by U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, at the height of debate over health care reform.

He alleges that McCowan and Molens attacked him without provocation after the meeting. The suit claims the union "ordered, encouraged, and arranged McCowan and Molens to appear ... to harass, abuse and beat those individuals who held political views."

Gladney says he received injuries to his head, neck, shoulders, arms, face, and back, as well as mental anguish, and is seeking at least $50,000 in damages.

During the criminal trial, McCowan and Molens said that after they confronted Gladney about his buttons, Gladney started the physical attack by slapping McCowan's hands.

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