PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An attorney for four union leaders ousted from their posts at the largest union at Bath Iron Works said Wednesday that his clients will sue for damages in state court after a federal judge rejected a lawsuit seeking to restore them to office.

District Judge George Z. Singal dismissed the lawsuit over the Machinists union’s decision to remove the leadership of Local S6 at the Navy shipbuilder. But while rejecting claims Friday under federal law, Singal left open the option for the plaintiffs to sue in state court.

Leon Rosenblatt, lawyer for the former union leaders, said the new lawsuit will seek damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress under state law.

“That’ll simply go forward in state court,” Rosenblatt said. “That part addresses all of the ridiculous, slanderous accusations that were made.”

The Machinists union stepped in last year following charges of shoddy accounting, pornography on union computers and failure to deal with grievances promptly.

Former President Michael Keenan, Vice President Troy Osgood, chief steward Michael Cyr and trustee Cathy London contend the international union carried out a vendetta against them. They say the parent union also violated federal labor laws in removing them from office.

The union held a trial that lasted more than a week in late April and early May. A three-member panel is expected to deliver a verdict by month’s end, and the goal is to have new elections within 18 months of the trusteeship going into effect, said John Carr, a Machinists union spokesman.

Under that timetable, new elections would be held within a couple of months.

Rosenblatt said he’s prepared to go back to federal court if the union prevents Keenan from running for president. The union initially objected to the way Keenan won his last re-election; Keenan won by an even larger margin when a second election was held.

As for Keenan, he said he was disappointed that the federal lawsuit was tossed but that he’s committed to suing in state court in the next couple of weeks.

“Get me in front of a jury and you’ll see shock and awe. You’ll see the biggest conspiracy ever told,” Keenan said. “Anyone can tell a story, whether it’s Mike Keenan or International Machinists. But there’s only one truth, and I’m ready to tell it.”


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