Reports on Growing Trend of “Nuclear” Verdicts, Behrens Weighs In interviewed defense lawyers on the growing trend of “nuclear” verdicts, referring to juries rendering awards beyond what is considered typical. Defense attorneys told the ALM publication that the plaintiffs' bar is out to punish defendants and juries are basing their decisions out of anger. Attorneys refer to it as social inflation, when a large verdict lays the groundwork for what a jury understands as reasonable. interviewed Shook Public Policy Co-Chair Mark Behrens in “With New Trial Tactics Fueling ‘Nuclear’ Verdicts, Can Defense Catch Up?

Behrens said he has heard of cases where plaintiffs’ attorneys do not introduce economic damages, as a tactic to try to prevent jurors from using the lower number as a starting point.

“There are social science studies that say jurors will gravitate toward a number, and that can be a fictional number made up by the plaintiff's lawyer,” said Behrens. “Juries will focus on that number and move it up or down depending on their own feelings.”