Plaintiff Attorneys Often Use ‘Reptile Theory’ to Win Nuclear Trucking Jury Verdicts, Experts Say

In 2009, two prominent trial attorneys introduced a litigation tactic known as the “reptile theory,” a strategy that aims to stoke fear and anger in the minds of jurors and, ultimately, compel them to hand down massive verdicts in civil lawsuits. In trucking accident lawsuits, it’s a method plaintiff lawyers have deployed in pursuit of so-called “nuclear” jury verdicts, those resulting in judgments of $10 million or more against motor carriers.

“In trucking cases, the reptile strategy is almost a given,” Dr. Rachel York Colangelo, Magna’s National Managing Director of Jury Consulting, told Transport Topics. “And it’s been very effective with jurors.”

She added, “There are buzzwords that will be coming in cases that will always be a red flag — words like ‘safety,’ ‘training,’ ‘community,’ ‘accountability.’ They let you know that the plaintiff attorney is headed down the reptile road.”

On that road, they’ll typically examine not just the accident, but also a carrier’s safety profiles and procedures, ranging from driver hiring, training and supervision to truck maintenance and use of motor carrier data.

Click here to read the full Transport Topics article, originally published on 1/19/2021.

The Few Patent Jury Trials In 2020 Led To Enormous Verdicts

The few patent jury trials that were able to take place in 2020 had some of the largest verdicts of the past decade. Magna’s National Managing Director of Jury Consulting, Rachel York Colangelo, Ph.D., spoke with Law360 about the tendency of juries “to slap the defendant in a way that gets their attention” when they believe corporations have intentionally acted unethically.

In her article, published on 12/22/2020, Law360’s Dani Kass wrote:

The COVID-19 pandemic saw patent trial after patent trial delayed and ultimately pushed into 2021, but the few jury trials that did go forward across the nation had some of the largest verdicts of the last decade.

This year featured three jury verdicts that surpassed $500 million, along with a nearly $2 billion judgment from a bench trial. On top of that, Apple paid off a judgment worth nearly a half-billion dollars, and a $752 million verdict against Kite Pharma from 2019 surpassed $1 billion when final judgment was entered in April.

Click here to read the full Law360 article.