Kevin Reynolds Presents Defense Techniques for Arguing Damages


Litigation attorney Kevin Reynolds presented "Anchors Aweigh: Defense Techniques for Arguing Damages" to members of the Iowa Defense Counsel Association (IDCA) at their annual meeting and virtual seminar on September 17, 2020. 

Reynold's presentation included details from his article "Defense Techniques for Arguing Damages" in the IDCA Defense Update Fall 2018 edition with Richard J. Kirschman (link below). 

The "Reptile Theory" in Iowa

Defense techniques for arguing damages is based in the emergence of large verdicts in Iowa ranging from $1.4 million to $40 million for damages. The "Reptile Theory," involves "fight or flight" reflexes for jurors through an emotional approach that removes focus from facts and the law and can result in enormously high jury verdicts. 

The presentation included common plaintiff's attorney strategies, techniques and arguments that can be recognized and countered by defense counsel. Significant Iowa cases were analyzed including arguments, defense techniques, and results.

Iowa cases addressing reptile tactics

These cases include asbestos exposure, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and personal injury that involved plaintiff's attorney demands for significant damages. The presentation reviewed the case, facts, strategies, tactics and results.

  • Conn v. Alfstad, 801 N.W.2d 33 (Iowa App. 2011)
  • Kinseth v. Weil-McLain, 913 N.W.2d 55 (Iowa 2018)
  • Bronner v. Reicks Farms, Inc., 2018 WL 2731618 (June 6, 2018)
  • Kipp v. Stanford, Iowa Ct. App. No. 18-2232 (filed June 17, 2020)
  • Wallis v. Townsend Vision, Inc., 648 F. Supp.2d 1075 (C.D. IL 2009)

What is "Anchoring" for damages

"Anchoring" is a well-studied plaintiff's attorney technique to inflate awards for personal injury damages, most notably pain and suffering/emotional distress. The strength of the anchoring effect seems that "the more you ask for, the more you get" for plaintiff's attorneys and having a powerful effect on damages.

Defense counsel strategy

Leading defense attorney tactics for high damage demands include countering Reptile arguments and effective strategies to counteract these tactics. 

For more information, contact Kevin M. Reynolds at 515-288-6041. 

Learn more about the IDCA at their website.

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