The Reverse Reptile: Rethinking Traditional Defense Strategies and Antidotes

Pre-Trial Motions, Trial Briefs, Motions for New Trial and Judgment Nothwithstanding the Verdict, Remedies, Preserving Issues for Appeal

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

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Conducted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

The CLE course will discuss how to use these strategies through oral and written word to exclude "reptile" evidence and arguments from the courtroom. The program will guide counsel through effective use of pre-trial and trial strategies, motions in limine, trial briefs, and new trial/jnov motions to exclude Golden Rule arguments, profits-over-safety themes, community savior verdicts, and the like.


"Reptile theory" is a challenging and often-discussed plaintiff's trial strategy. It subtly encourages jurors to envision themselves in the same situation as a plaintiff but with the power to "save" the plaintiff, themselves, and the community from future harm by awarding a large verdict.

Much has been written and discussed about oral defenses against reptile strategy, such as during depositions and witness examinations, as well as during opening and closing. But there are also powerful tools and strategies that can be wielded in defense of this strategy: counter anchoring numbers on damages, humanizing the corporate defendant, motions in limine, trial briefs, and motions for new trial/judgment notwithstanding the verdict, among others.

Knowing these strategies and how to present them, including drafting these motions and briefs carefully and precisely allows defense counsel to neutralize common arguments from plaintiffs. By establishing that specific questions and evidence are part of the reptile strategy, defense counsel can counter the plaintiff counsel’s moves at every turn and prevent the reptiles bite.

Listen as this experienced panel of trial attorneys explains how effectively written papers can augment other anti-reptile defenses and how counsel can draft winning papers.



  1. Overview of reptile approach
  2. Procedural motions to keep reptile questioning and argument out
  3. Substantive pre-trial motions to combat reptile tactics
  4. Substantive post-trial motions to combat reptile tactics
  5. Preserving error for appeal during trial motion
    1. Motion for mistrial
    2. Motion for directed verdict
  6. Existing and recent case law


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What issues and lines of questioning are best suited for written motions in limine?
  • How can defendants respond to allegations that their motions in limine seek what is in effect a "gag" order?
  • How can reptile theory error be best preserved for appeal?
  • When can counsel seek a new trial based on reptile tactics?


Horres, E. Stratton
E. Stratton Horres, Jr.

Senior Counsel
Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker

Mr. Horres is an accomplished litigator who has more than 40 years of experience behind his practice, which is focused...  |  Read More

Whitlock, Kathryn
Kathryn S. (Kate) Whitlock

Wood Smith Henning & Berman

Kate Whitlock is a partner with the Atlanta office of Wood Smith Henning & Berman, LLP. She has spent her entire...  |  Read More

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