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Ivory soap is renowned for being 99.44 percent pure. In the advertising realm, that is an impressive percentage. In corporate liability and risk management, however, 99 percent effectiveness and safety may not be impressive enough.

In my career handling and managing claims — helping policyholders who have been the target of lawsuits — I often hear clients insist that they have a strong legal defense because an accident or an adverse outcome is “statistically insignificant.” For example, when dealing with prescription drugs or medical liabilities, perhaps only a few dozen patients out of 10,000 have a fatal reaction. Maybe only 66 out of a million are adversely affected. In this calculus, it is easy to rush to judgment in dismissing a plaintiff’s liability argument. One could say the claim is bogus and has no merit, anticipating a slam-dunk trial victory.

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