Product Liability Nuclear Verdicts Soar, New Shook Study Finds

Shook attorneys Cary Silverman and Christopher Appel have authored their paper, “Nuclear Verdicts: An Update on Trends, Causes, and Solutions,” published in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform. Nuclear Verdicts are described as a jury verdict worth $10 million or more. 

Through their findings, Silverman and Appel discovered that while nuclear verdicts dropped off significantly during the period of court closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they quickly rebounded to near-record highs by the third quarter of 2021. Concluding that, excluding the pandemic years, nuclear verdicts are on an upward trajectory.

Silverman and Appel dove into the factors that are driving this nuclear verdict trend, examining different case types across different states. Their research found that product liability nuclear verdicts are increasing in size far more quickly than other verdict types, rising to a median value of $36 million in 2022 from a starting median of $24 million in 2013 (a 50% increase).

The duo’s research diagnoses a range of phenomena that drive nuclear verdicts and concludes with a set of solutions that policymakers can implement. As members of Shook’s public policy practice, Silverman’s work focuses on product liability, tort and consumer law while Appel works on tort law and civil justice system reform.