Guerry R. Thornton, an attorney with an Atlanta-based arbitration and mediation firm, will be in Paris in June to assist European counterparts representing claimants with asbestos-related illnesses. He projects that these illnesses will generate more than $80 billion in claims over the next 20 years in Europe.

Mr. Thornton, a special counsel with Henning Global ADR, told GlobalAtlanta that the firm handled some of the settlements in the John Manville Corp. case, which in 1983 amounted to $4 billion, one of the largest personal injury cases in the U.S.

He added that asbestos-related claims in the U.S. are projected to reach more than $200 billion in the next 30 years.

Henning Global ADR is a division of Henning Mediation and Arbitration Services Inc. The firm has 34 attorneys with extensive experience in the field. Last year, Henning Global formed alliances with the Paris-based Center for Mediation and Arbitration and the InterMediation Group Ltd. in London.

Mr. Thornton will remain in Europe for a month and a half during which time he will consult with attorneys at the InterMediation Group about insurance issues related to asbestos cases.

In addition, he will participate in Paris June 4-5 in the Mediation Forum sponsored by the International Association of Lawyers, an organization through which he has made many of his European contacts over the years.

Mr. Thornton said arbitration has been accepted in Europe for decades because access to European courts is so difficult. However, he explained that over the past five years there has been a preference for resolving conflicts in Europe by mediation, a process where parties are brought together to structure a solution.

He said that it is easier to gain access to the courts in the U.S. but it is costly and risky for businesses. Therefore, arbitration and mediation are often found to be a more attractive alternative.

Meanwhile, the European Union has put in place new mediation guidelines. Since it often takes many years for asbestos-related illnesses to become apparent, asbestos cases are expected to be a major legal problem in Europe for many years.

For more information, contact Mr. Thornton by email at