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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent’s May 29 letter to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the mandamus action against him. It has been edited for length and style. … It is obvious to this court that the defendants-petitioners are utilizing their vast and potentially endless resources to manipulate the federal court system in an arrogant and remarkably callous attempt to delay these asbestosis lawsuits for as long as the courts will possibly allow. To understand this fact, the panel need only examine the tortured procedural history of these cases. Defendants-petitioners represent the three largest automobile manufacturers in the United States. In stark contrast, plaintiffs are individuals who are seriously ill, some of whom are literally on their deathbeds, allegedly as a result of defendants-petitioners’ conduct. Win or lose, plaintiffs are entitled to closure on the claims that they aver have destroyed their lives. Notwithstanding the inequities, the automobile manufacturers have relentlessly employed the most manipulative and craven approach to litigation that this court has ever witnessed. Drawing upon their enormous coffers, the automobile manufacturers have hired an elite force of lawyers, whose primary purpose appears to be dilatory, and who appear to believe that they can contravene the lucid mandates of the 5th Circuit, and any other court for that matter, without any repercussions. Despite the 5th Circuit’s unambiguous and repeated holding that subject matter jurisdiction is wanting over the nondebtor co-defendants’ claims, the automotive manufacturers have persisted in removing and re-removing these otherwise nonremovable cases into federal district courts throughout this jurisdiction. Although the automobile manufacturers insist a valid basis for removal exists, in fact each time torquing the law beyond recognition, these removals have clearly been initiated in bad faith. Defendants-petitioners are attempting to bootstrap themselves into federal court by the thinnest and most pretextual veil of “related to” jurisdiction surmisable under any interpretation of the federal bankruptcy statutes, yet ironically express their horror and indignation at this court’s decision to remand these lawsuits to the state courts in which they were filed and properly belong. In essence, the automobile manufacturers are attempting to select the court, and in fact, the very judge that will preside over their disputes. This fact is vividly evidenced by their outlandish and utterly unwarranted request that any future asbestosis lawsuits involving friction product claims be transferred from this court and reassigned to another judge, such astonishing request being predicated upon nothing more than their dissatisfaction with the result! … If the plaintiffs’ bar attempted such obvious, heavy-handed and brazen tactics, they would be excoriated for forum shopping, judicial intimidation, and abuse of the legal system… .

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