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Countering the Most Extreme Risk Aversion and Anti-Corporate Sentiment in Personal Injury Cases: Defense Strategies

A live 90-minute CLE video webinar with interactive Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 (in 4 days)

1:00pm-2:30pm EDT, 10:00am-11:30am PDT

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE webinar will discuss how defense counsel can mitigate or diffuse "safetyism" in personal injury cases, which is especially prevalent in transportation, product liability, medical malpractice, environmental, and mass tort litigation. The panel will contrast safetyism with "reptile" theory, discuss how traditional defense strategies can unwittingly play into safetyism, and then offer strategies to combat it at every stage of the case. The panel will also highlight best practices for witness preparation where safetyism is expected.


Safetyism refers to the tendency of juries to demand zero or near-zero risk from corporate defendants--no errors, no risk of injury, no chance of a bad outcome, no "safe level" of a contaminant, etc. Safetyism demands perfection and it is a driving force in mega-verdicts.

Safetyism takes reptile theory to the proverbial "next level." It combines extreme risk aversion with the belief that corporations only care about the bottom line. Defense attorneys need tools and strategies to counteract safetyism.

The first step is to understand the logical fallacies upon which safetyism is based. Then counsel must counter those logical faults with realism and facts but in a way that does not suggest that one should just accept danger. Traditional defense themes may need to be reformulated. It is critical that corporate defendants know the facts of what actually happened and tell those facts early and often. Defense witnesses need to be able to respond to "safety" questions in a way that resonates with juries and avoids playing into the plaintiff's themes.

Listen as our experienced panel discusses "safetyism" in personal injury cases and strategies for addressing extreme risk aversion, anti-corporate sentiment, and juries' demand for perfection.



  1. Safetyism vs. reptile theory
  2. Strategies for countering safetyism


The panel will discuss these and other key issues:

  • How does safetyism differ from reptile theory?
  • What have some researchers identified as the three fallacies that are a part of safetyism?
  • How does safetyism alter the way counsel prepares witnesses for deposition?
  • Does arguing "acceptable" risk do anything other than fuel safetyism?
  • How does mastering the facts of the case counter safetyism?


Duffy, Ann Marie
Ann Marie Duffy


Ms. Duffy is an accomplished trial lawyer who has broad experience in the defense of complex civil litigation. With...  |  Read More

Gray, Marchello
Marchello D. Gray


Mr. Gray is a key member of the firm’s Complex Litigation, Pharmaceutical Products, and Toxic Torts &...  |  Read More

Dr. Eric Rudich, Ph.D.

Managing Partner | Senior Litigation Consultant
Blueprint Trial Consulting

Dr. Rudich is a Managing Partner and Senior Litigation Consultant at Blueprint Trial Consulting. As a social...  |  Read More

Attend on May 22

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You may pre-order a recording to listen at your convenience. Recordings are available 48 hours after the webinar. Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

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