H. Gavin Long, a personal injury trial lawyer with the Newport Beach law firm of Bisnar Chase will be one of 14 speakers at the Reptile Masters Conference in Atlanta October 14-15. Reptile is an approach to personal injury cases that is proving to be an invaluable tool in a personal injury lawyer’s arsenal. The strategy was developed by personal injury lawyer Don Keenan and renowned trial consultant David Ball.
What is the Reptile Theory?
In a personal injury case, the typical plaintiff’s opening used to begin with a sympathetic explanation of what the plaintiff has suffered, his or her ordeal, injuries and the financial emotional damages. The Reptile strategy challenges this theory that an emotional plea on behalf of plaintiffs will coax jurors into giving a damage award. Instead of engendering sympathy for the plaintiff, the Reptile approach focuses on the defendants’ behavior.
The focus is on anger, and the idea is to make jurors believe the worst about a defendant. In personal injury cases, this is often a corporation such as an insurance company or automaker. For example, the attorney focuses on the company’s track record. This might sound like a simple concept. But, it takes more work than that. It is a carefully crafted and creatively taught strategy, which is changing the way cases are being tried. It is not surprising that the Reptile theory has become defense counsel’s new nemesis.
Long’s Success with the Reptile Approach
Long has enjoyed tremendous success with the Reptile strategy in recent cases especially in one case, which resulted in a $3 million jury verdict for his client. Long said he learned with the Reptile approach to take the emphasis of the case off his client and place it on jurors. He used a focus group to not only understand how jurors think and act, but also to help discover what the true weaknesses in the case were.
In this particular case, the defense offered Long’s client $100,000, which was the policy amount. The demand was $875,000 and the case went to trial. The jury returned with a $3 million verdict placing 65 percent of the fault on the defendant and 35 percent on the plaintiff. By making the case about community safety and the defendant’s failure to accept responsibility, Long had turned what started out as a challenging case for the plaintiff into a major victory for his client.
We are confident that the participants at the Reptile Masters conference will benefit from Long’s valuable experience.