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

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?


Jedidiah M. Bernstein
Hinshaw & Culbertson, New York

Mr. Bernstein focuses his practice on defending manufacturers, suppliers and distributors against product liability claims. He defends companies located internationally and in the United States against a wide range of personal injury and property damage claims. He has successfully defended clients against allegations of manufacturing and design defects, strict liability, failure to warn and breach of warranties. He also litigates class-action lawsuits arising from products subject to national and international recalls. He co-authored an article on defending against the reptile theory, published in The Transportation Lawyer.

Paul E. Wojcicki, Shareholder
Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, Chicago

Mr. Wojcicki concentrates his practice in two primary areas, litigation and business counseling. His litigation practice includes complex commercial and consumer disputes, including class actions, products liability claims, and warranty and service contract actions. He represents companies large and small across a wide variety of industry sectors in state and federal trial and appellate courts across the country. He frequently speaks on emerging legal and business topics including litigation strategies and tactics, risk management, developments in products liability and warranty law, and authored an article on the Reptile Theory, The Reptile’s In Our Midst – Defending against the “Triune Brain” trial strategy.


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Litigation Advisory Board

David R. Cohen


Reed Smith

Jeffrey J. Fowler


O’Melveny & Myers

Jonathan Evan Goldberg



Mark E. Goodman


Capes Sokol Goodman & Sarachan

Dean D. Hunt


Baker & Hostetler

Michael E. Lackey, Jr.


Mayer Brown

Stephen Paffrath


Greenberg Traurig

Anthony T. Pierce


Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

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