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Nuclear Verdicts: Countering Social Influence, Corporate Mistrust, Humanizing Corporate Defendant

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 Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will offer trial lawyers concrete strategies and tactics to diffuse potential jury anger in setting damages, provide reasonable alternative damages figures for a defense verdict, and personalizing the corporate defendant to the jury panel.


Insurers are both alarmed and perplexed by a 10-year trend of increasing "nuclear" verdicts, which has grown more acute in the last two years. Injury and damage claims that once resulted in reasonable or nominal jury awards are generating astonishing judgments in the multi-millions.

Are societal factors the primary causes of these large verdicts? Are juries, judges, and mediators desensitized to damages amounts? Do unfiltered reporting of newsworthy injuries, the vilification of corporate defendants, and third-party litigation funding contribute?

Whatever the reasons for the trend in higher verdicts, counsel must recognize these and other factors and prepare to counter with new arguments and tactics. Many traditional defense tactics, such as not mentioning a damages amount, aren't working and are being used against the defense.

Listen as our authoratative panel discusses the concepts behind social inflation of damage judgments and the factors driving nuclear verdicts. The panel will delve into proactive, aggressive, and cooperative approaches to disarm these trends and mitigate runaway verdicts.



  1. Understanding nuclear verdicts and the kinds of cases that generate them
  2. Causes of excessive damage awards
    1. Factors the defense can control
    2. Other factors
      1. Legal advertising
      2. Social inflation and pessimism
      3. Litigation funding
      4. Desensitization
      5. Unfiltered reporting
  3. Mitigating plaintiff tactics to enhance damages
    1. Jury consultants
    2. Personalizing defendant
    3. Preventing the plaintiff from enraging jury
    4. Anchoring
    5. Voir dire screening
    6. Deposition strategies
    7. Dealing with more aggressive settlement evaluations and expectations


The panel will review these and other highly relevant matters:

  • What has changed in the amount of jury verdict awards and why?
  • What are the factors that contribute to excessive damage awards?
  • How can defense counsel counter "nuclear" verdict awards?


Behrens, Mark
Mark A. Behrens

Shook Hardy & Bacon

Mr. Behrens co-chairs Shook's Washington, D.C.-based Public Policy Practice Group. He has been involved in civil...  |  Read More

Caffrey, Sharon
Sharon L. Caffrey

Duane Morris

Ms. Caffrey concentrates her practice in the areas of mass tort, products liability and toxic tort litigation, with...  |  Read More

Holmes, Samantha
Samantha D. Holmes, Ph.D.

EDGE Litigation Consulting

Dr. Holmes has worked in the field of jury psychology for almost two decades and has worked with clients on hundreds of...  |  Read More

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