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Building a Bomb Shelter

CLM commits to diffusing nuclear verdicts with two new initiatives

November 17, 2020 Photo

In the last few years, a unified plaintiffs’ bar has been utilizing courtroom strategies like reptile-theory questioning and social-inflation trends to convince juries to award huge “nuclear” verdicts. These verdicts have grown in frequency, leaving claims professionals and lawyers looking for their own strategies and solutions for dealing with the fallout.

To address this problem, CLM assembled a Nuclear Verdict Taskforce with the expressed intent of defending against the tactics employed by the plaintiffs’ bar while also developing its own lines of attack. The taskforce, which is comprised of senior leaders in claims and well-known defense trial lawyers, has put pen to paper and begun developing a two-prong approach for helping educate CLM members and fellows on how to prevent nuclear verdicts.

First is the creation of a training program for claims professionals to help head off nuclear verdicts before the fuse is even lit. The training program aims to help claims professionals better recognize the red flags and offer strategies to deal with these claims before it is too late. Plans are to hold the education virtually in early 2021, with in-person training taking place in the fall.

Second is the formation of a trial academy that will train defense lawyers on how to build a case during discovery, and effectively try a case to avoid or at least mitigate nuclear verdicts. The academy will teach courtroom strategies such as how to diffuse juror anger, personalize corporate defendants, defeat reptile-theory attempts, and effectively argue noneconomic damages. CLM aims to host the first trial academy in the fall of 2021, as well.

As with CLM’s Claims College, both the training program and trial academy will be taught by senior industry professionals and attorneys, and will be advised by CLM’s Nuclear Verdict Taskforce. Look for more information about both programs in the coming months.

About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@theclm.org

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