The Lessons Of 20 O,000 Lawsuits

Asbestos has taught a company named Keene something about litigation nightmares. And for a price, Keene will share its wisdom with the rest of the corporate world. Peregrine Solutions, Keene's new venture, claims to offer the answer to containing legal costs from huge court claims. The source of its expertise? After battling nearly 200,000 asbestos cases and spending as much as $3.4 million monthly on legal fees, in December, Keene succumbed to bankruptcy, the 18th asbestos defendant to do so.

The idea behind Peregrine--named after the fastest-flying bird of prey, which once faced extinction--is to set time limits and predict charges for 98 different aspects of litigation. Example: Keene was once billed 1.5 hours to answer a standard plaintiff's complaint--too long for the job. It got that down to less than a half hour. All this, says Keene, cut $60 million off its tab over the past three years.

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