Combating Plaintiff Reptilian Tactics in Complex and High-Stakes Litigation: Transforming Perception of the Company

Strategies for Discovery, Voir Dire, Opening and Closing Argument, Direct and Cross-Exam

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to litigators on combating the emerging trial strategy commonly known as the “reptile theory.” The panel will discuss the increased use of reptilian tactics by plaintiffs’ attorneys throughout the life of the case and how defense counsel can strategically confront the strategy.


The trial strategy known as “reptile theory” is an innovative approach that is steadily gaining traction among the plaintiffs’ bar. The theory promotes the use of trial tactics that appeal to the region of jurors’ brains that is sensitive to safety as a tactic to win cases and recover sizable verdicts.

Proponents of the reptile theory claim that that the theory is responsible for over $6 billion in jury verdicts, including a jury verdict of $50 million in a wrongful death case.

Reptilian-type tactics are showing up throughout each phase of litigation, including discovery, opening statement, direct- and cross-examination, and closing argument. Defense attorneys must understand how to identify when reptilian tactics are being used and strategies for combating them.

Listen as our authoritative panel of litigators discusses the growing use of tactics described as reptilian in litigation and how defense counsel can challenge these tactics throughout the course of the case to increase the company’s chances of success.



  1. Reptilian tactics in litigation—history of theory and current trends in its use
  2. Defense strategies—from discovery through closing argument


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What is the underlying basis for the strategy often described as reptilian?
  • How are plaintiffs’ attorneys leveraging so-called reptile tactics to influence jurors’ view of their cases?
  • How can defense attorneys counter the increasing use of reptilian tactics?


Bernstein, Jedidiah
Jedidiah M. Bernstein

Hinshaw & Culbertson

Mr. Bernstein focuses his practice on defending manufacturers, suppliers and distributors against product liability...  |  Read More

Paul E. Wojcicki
Paul E. Wojcicki

Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney

Mr. Wojcicki concentrates his practice in two primary areas, litigation and business counseling. His...  |  Read More

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