Some people are just naturally slim. They can eat whatever they want in large amounts and not gain weight.

Others are happy being fat. They enjoy their morsels remorselessly, because they are disinterested about how they look.

The rest of us are bigger than we want to be and none too happy about it. We go from one daffy diet and exercise regimen to another, trying to find a relatively painless way to get our weight down and keep it down.

Sometimes we make progress. We drop twenty or thirty pounds, put on slacks we haven't worn in years, and start feeling good about ourselves.

Then, the holidays roll around and the next thing we know we've gained back what we lost and hit a new high.

It's disheartening.

But it's not the new year and yuletide engorgements that have put us in this frame of mind. It's a report on the number of asbestos lawsuits filed in Madison County in 2011.

In 2003, Madison County hit a high of 953 asbestos lawsuits filed. The number dropped to less than half of that the following year (477) and continued to decline through 2006 (325).

Then in 2007, it began to inch up again, and last year it tied the 2003 record high of 953. We taxpayers pay for the courthouse and the courts that now are beyond obese with asbestos litigation.

Madison County once again has the busiest state court asbestos docket in the country, thanks to our willingness to accept filings from out-of-state plaintiffs. Do all those cases really belong here--if anywhere?

We were feeling pretty good about ourselves back in 2006. Now, we're disgusted.

All the improvements we made are gone and we're right back where we started.

Clearly, we've got a problem and we need to address it. We need to figure out what we did right between 2003 and 2006 and start doing it again.

It's not too late to make a New Year's resolution. Let's resolve to downsize our docket and get Madison County back in shape.

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