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

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

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Conducted on Thursday, July 15, 2021

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide litigators on combating the trial strategy commonly known as the "reptile theory." The panel will educate counsel about identifying and responding to "reptile" tactics at every stage of a matter, from discovery through closing argument.


Plaintiff attorneys use "reptile theory" to get larger plaintiff verdicts by appealing to the primal region of jurors' brains focused on safety and self-preservation. "Reptile" tactics seek to subtly lead the jury to believe that the defendant put all of society in danger and that a plaintiff's verdict is the only way to keep the world safe for themselves and others.

Its proponents credit reptile theory for $6 billion-plus in jury verdicts, including a single $50 million verdict in a wrongful death case.

To be most effective, reptilian theory tactics are deployed during every phase of a case, including discovery, opening statement, direct- and cross-examination, and closing argument. Defense attorneys must spot when reptilian tactics are being used and develop strategies for nullifying them.

Listen as our authoritative panel of litigators shares how to defend against these tactics and create the best opportunity for success at trial.



  1. Reptilian tactics in litigation: how to spot them
  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 plaintiffs' use of reptilian tactics?


Boggs, Beth
Beth C. Boggs

Managing Partner
Boggs Avellino Lach & Boggs

Ms. Boggs concentrates her practice in civil litigation involving construction defect, insurance coverage, employment...  |  Read More

Broda-Bahm, Ken
Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm, Ph.D.

Senior Litigation Consultant
Persuasion Strategies

Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm has provided research and strategic advice on several hundred cases across the country for the past...  |  Read More

Bush, Cheryl
Cheryl A. Bush

Founding Member
Bush Seyferth

Ms. Bush has extensive first-chair trial experience and has obtained exceptionally positive results for her clients,...  |  Read More

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