The Reptile Cometh…. Prevent the Psychological Manipulation

CSI - Courtroom Sciences Inc

Reptilian tactics have produced plaintiff verdicts and settlements totaling nearly $8.0 billion since 2009. Called “the greatest advance in the plaintiff bar in the last 100 years,” Reptile tactics have proven a substantial threat across a wide swath of litigation practice areas: med-mal, nursing home, transportation (train, trucking and delivery), product liability, construction, employment, and pharmaceuticals. Much of the Reptile’s success derives from the plaintiff’s focus upon extra-legal questioning related to “safety rules” and “community endangerment,” along with the strategic deployment of psychological and communicative manipulation techniques. The extra-legal focus and psychological manipulation by Reptile trained attorneys typically exceeds the purview and training of most defense attorneys. For an extensive discussion of the Reptile movement, we would encourage you to review our articles.

The Reptile’s growth means that the Defense community must be prepared to face the challenges presented by Reptile attorneys, particularly at the deposition stage. The Reptile’s success relies heavily on an attorney’s ability to psychologically destabilize and emotionally or cognitively discredit witnesses during video recorded depositions. Discrediting a witness, through either the admission of negligence or poor communication/behavior captured on video, increases settlement leverage for the Reptile attorney and ensures damaging testimony at trial. Even if a witness receives training in preparation of trial testimony, the witness will likely face impeachment clips which will raise credibility questions for jurors. Courtroom Sciences is the only litigation consulting firm with a proven scientific methodology that IS preventing Reptile tactics from taking hold.

Although the Reptile attorney may be employing psychologically manipulative questioning, we firmly believe defendants have the advantage in defeating the Reptile. While the Plaintiff’s bar has raised the level of sophistication in their practice, the Defense Bar must answer in equal or greater sophistication. Gone are the days of a lawyer training a witness the day before a deposition or simply telling the witness to “listen to the question,” “say as little as possible,” and “remain polite.” Training a witness to withstand a skillful Reptile deposition requires a sophisticated operant conditioning system to address cognitive, emotional, and behavioral challenges, in addition to case related questioning. Your witness needs to be able to answer:

  • “Is safety your top priority?”

  • “Do you follow safety rules when performing your job?”

  • “You would agree with me that you would never want to needlessly endanger others, right?

  • “If you could avoid a dangerous decision you should always do so, correct?”

  • “What authoritative texts, sources, or journals do you use in your position?”

Virtually every untrained witness will answer “Yes” to these questions without understanding the strategic nature of the questioning. If you or your colleagues answered “yes” to these questions then we would invite you to contact us for a CLE presentation addressing the dangers and offering suggestions to defeat Reptile questioning at the deposition stage. Answering “yes” to these questions puts your witness’ testimony in significant jeopardy, and begins to lay the foundation for the Reptile at trial.

In addition to training witnesses, we also conduct seminars for defense attorneys, insurance companies, and large corporations who may be exposed to these litigation tactics. Depending upon where we are in the country, our audience will have a variety of levels of experience and knowledge about Reptile tactics. Corporations and defense attorneys continue to lack an awareness of the Reptile movement or an understanding of the movement’s techniques. Prevent the spread of the Reptile movement. If your firm or client would benefit from learning more about Reptile tactics, then we would be happy to schedule a CLE or training seminar. If you have a witness who may benefit from our training system or a case that may be vulnerable to Reptile tactics then please contact us to discuss the case issues.

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