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In October 1982, I was selected as the neutral moderator of a group consisting of major asbestos producers, large insurance companies, and prominent personal injury lawyers who are suing the asbestos producers, and indirectly their insurers, alleging that thousands of their clients contracted serious diseases by inhaling asbestos fibers. The aim of this tripartite group (which, for reasons that have little to do with my contribution, became known as the Wellington Group) has been to design a private administrative agency that will fairly and effectively manage the bulk of asbestos claims and asbestos product liability litigation.
Under the existing judicial system in America, asbestos litigation has reached epidemic proportions. It is extravagantly expensive and grotesquely inefficient. Conceivably billions of dollars are at stake in this group effort and the fair treatment of thousands of very sick people and thousands more who one day will be ill as a result of asbestos may turn on the success of this private initiative.
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