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Insurance Defense Litigation: Defending Against the Reptile Theory Utilized by Plaintiffs

Preparing Deponents and Witnesses, Conducting Voir Dire, Opening and Closing Arguments, and Direct and Cross-Exam

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with 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.

Conducted on Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Recorded event now available

This CLE course will provide guidance to insurance defense litigators on combating the 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 claim that reptile tactics have played a part in over $6 billion in jury verdicts, including a jury verdict of $50 million in a wrongful death case.

Reptilian-type strategies 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 and combat reptilian tactics.

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



  1. Reptilian tactics in litigation—history of theory, 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 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

Natoli, Noelle
Noelle M. Natoli

Foley & Mansfield

Ms. Natoli chairs the firm's Elder Law and Transportation Practice Groups and has extensive experience from service...  |  Read More