Combating Plaintiff Reptilian Tactics in Complex Litigation: Discovery, Voir Dire, Direct and Cross-Exam

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

Conducted on Tuesday, February 27, 2018

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 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 the theory is responsible for $6 billion-plus in jury verdicts, including a jury verdict of $50 million in a wrongful death case.

Reptilian theory tactics are used throughout each phase of litigation, including discovery, opening statement, direct- and cross-examination, and closing argument. Defense attorneys must identify when reptilian tactics are used and develop 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 and current trends
  2. Defense strategies—from discovery through closing argument


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What is the underlying basis for “reptilian” theory trial tactics?
  • How are plaintiffs’ attorneys leveraging reptile tactics to influence jurors?
  • How can defense attorneys counter plaintiff’s use of reptilian tactics?


Skane, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Skane

Skane Wilcox

Ms. Skane specializes in the areas of personal injury, professional liability, government tort liability, construction,...  |  Read More

Wojcicki, Paul
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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