Reptilian Tactics: Litigating First-Party Insurance Cases

Responding to Reptile Techniques During Discovery, Deposition, Voir Dire, Opening Statement, Cross-Examination, Closing Argument

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

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Conducted on Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will guide insurance counsel on applying the "reptile theory" in first-party insurance cases. Our panel will explore tactics used by counsel for insureds to leverage this litigation strategy, and steps insurers can take to neutralize them effectively. The panel will also discuss considerations in preserving for appellate review any challenges to using the reptile theory.


The reptile theory has become a mainstay among practitioners in the areas of personal injury and products liability. Increasingly, though, counsel for insureds are co-opting these tactics to maximize recovery in first-party insurance cases, especially with allegations of bad faith.

Critical to the strategy's success is an insured's counsel gaining essential admissions during the testimony of adjusters, investigators, and other witnesses handling a claim. Insurance practitioners must understand this strategy and thoroughly prepare each witness for "reptile" questions during depositions and trials. Defense attorneys must also equip insurance company witnesses with the necessary tools to respond to reptile tactics during the investigation/pre-discovery phase.

Listen as our panel of experienced insurance litigators discusses how reptile tactics are deployed in first-party insurance cases and provides critical insight into how to neutralize their impact.



  1. Overview of "reptile" theory
    1. Generally
    2. First-party insurance cases
  2. Anticipating and preparing for the reptile theory
  3. Preventing the foundations for reptile arguments during depositions
  4. Disarming reptile themes and testimony at trial
  5. Practical considerations


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • How does the application of reptile theory differ in first-party insurance cases?
  • What preemptive steps can insurers and their counsel take to combat reptile tactics?
  • What impact has the reptile theory had on insured's recoveries in first-party insurance cases?


Whalen, James
James T. Whalen, Jr.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith

Mr. Whalen is a partner in the New York office of Lewis Brisbois and a member of the General Liability Practice. He is...  |  Read More

Stafford, Karen
Karen C. Stafford

Senior Member
The Cavanagh Law Firm

Ms. Stafford’s practice is primarily focused on insurance coverage, insurance bad faith litigation, general...  |  Read More

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