Are Large Verdicts an Unfair By-Product of " Reptile" Trial Tactics?

lizard geckoThe most recent episode of Everyday Law featured a discussion between host, Bob Clark of the Laurel, Maryland Law Firm, Clark and Steinhorn, LLC and attorney, Maryan Alexander, a partner in the Baltimore office of the national law firm, Wilson Elser.

Maryan will be speaking at the Maryland State Bar Summit in Ocean City, Maryland in June, with an emphasis on utilizing pre-trial discovery and motions practice to restrict the field of play for so-called " Reptile" trial tactics.

For those of you unfamilar with " Reptile" its modern trial lawyer incarnation originated more then a decade ago in the minds of trial advocates Don Keenan and David Ball and became widely known in their contemporaneous book " Reptile: The 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff's Revolution".

While the more granular details of this approach will be discussed elsewhere the basic premise is that jurors can be communicated to in primal ways that activate the limbic system and stimulate verdicts that are not the by-product of rational evaluation of the evidence.

The enthusiasm for this idea in the plaintiff's bar has only been surpassed by a cottage industry in the insurance defense bar explaining how to defuse it. Maryan is an excellent spokesperson for the need to constrain the use of Reptile and doubtless will have some excellent suggestions for fellow lawyers intent upon keeping the Reptile in its terrarium.

However, despite efforts to limit or eliminate Reptile, all trial lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants, are fundamentally striving to persuade jurors to relate to their clients position in the litigation, which inevitably involves emotional investment and limbic system response.


Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
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