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John has written widely on first-party bad faith, punitive damages, discovery disputes, and on the application of state valued policy laws to property losses in Florida and other Gulf Coast states. He has also served as the Vice Chair of the Property Insurance Law General Committee within the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association.
John received his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Minnesota, cum laude, in 1982 and his Master of Laws degree, with distinction, from Georgetown University in 1991. Prior to joining the firm in 2003, John served on active duty for twenty-one years as a member of the Judge Advocate Generals Corps, United States Navy, retiring as a Captain.
August 21, 2018 PUBLICATION John Garaffa Business Interruption and Damage Claims
Partner John Garaffa wrote a chapter titled Business Interruption and Damage Claims for the 5th Edition of The Complete Guide to Economic Damages.
September 20, 2017 PUBLICATION Florida Insurance Litigation (2017 Edition)
LexisNexis Practice Guide: Florida Insurance Litigation provides the practitioner with immediate access to knowledge and strategy on every aspect of insurance practice in Florida. The publication concisely presents the terms, conditions and exclusions that govern coverage offered against the risks under each line of insurance. This approach provides a comprehensive exploration of key concepts, policy language and insight for litigation of common and esoteric disputes under those policies. Each chapter also provides task-oriented checklists, examples, strategic points, and cross-references to governing statutory and case law.
April 21, 2017 PUBLICATION Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal, Winter 2017
View Bill Lewis, John Garaffa, and Sarah Burke’s newest contributions to the ABA’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal. This comprehensive PDF explains recent developments in property insurance law.
April 27, 2016 PUBLICATION RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN PROPERTY INSURANCE COVERAGE LITIGATION
Given the extreme weather that is affecting most of the country and the El Nin o that is expected in 2016, the issues in these cases, as well as other property insurance issues, are likely to arise in different contexts in numerous jurisdictions going forward. This article has cases on a broad range of property insurance disputes across the country.
November 10, 2014 PUBLICATION The Absolute Pollution Exclusion: Pollution and Fungus, Wet Rot, Dry Rot, and Bacteria
The history of the pollution exclusion clause in its early forms demonstrates that its purpose was to serve as a broad exclusion for traditional environmentally related damages. The terms of the absolute pollution exclusion suggest that its reach extends well beyond those losses. However, some state and federal courts have cited the early history of the exclusion to narrow its application to traditional environmental pollution. This article notes the impact those disparate views have on coverage for damage due to contaminants.
March 01, 2014 PUBLICATION Business Interruption and Damage Claims
Business interruption insurance is a class of coverage that is intended to protect the business owner from potential income loss that can flow from damage to insured property. Such property can be directly insured or, in the case of dependent property, can be the property of others that have a direct connection to the business of the insured. In addition, business interruption coverage can protect against damage to the property of key suppliers or customers that, in turn, has a detrimental effect on the insured’s business. Extra expense coverage is a subset of business interruption coverage. It protects the insured against increased expenses that can arise out of the insured’s efforts to return to business after an interruption in operations caused by a covered property loss. These expenses can include costs that are incurred to retain personnel who might otherwise be lost during an interruption, speed the recovery of the business, or maintain operations in a different way, while critical property is repaired or replaced.
September 01, 2013 PUBLICATION Mind the Gap: Weathering the Statutory Notification Process When a Data Breach Occurs
Even before Edward Snowden and the NSA entered into the public conversation, data breach concerns abounded. For instance, a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute surveyed 4,774 IT and IT security professionals from nine countries- U.S., UK, France, Germany, Japan, China, India, Australia, and Brazil - and revealed that 60 percent of companies had a network security breach in the last year and 34 percent of those companies experienced more than one breach.
February 23, 2012 PUBLICATION Bullock v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.: Where ‘Reprehensibility’ As An Exception To Constitutional Protections And the Ratio Guidepost Includes The Wealth Of The Defendant
On November 30, 2011, the California Supreme Court exercised its discretion and let stand a 13.8 million punitive damage award that was more than 16 times the compensatory damages awarded by the jury. The case, Bullock v. Philip Morris, 1 (Bullock) involved a smoker diagnosed with lung cancer who filed suit against the cigarette manufacturer, seeking damages based on products liability, fraud, and other theories.
August 15, 2011 PUBLICATION Determining Coverage In Property Insurance Policies- New Appleman on Insurance Law Library Edition, Chapter 42
Then addressing a claim for indemnity for the loss or damage to property, counsel will need to determine whether the claimant is a person or entity whose loss is covered under the terms and conditions of the policy at issue. In a first-party property insurance matter, the issue of whether a claimant has standing to assert a right to benefits...
September 23, 2010 PUBLICATION We Said What We Meant And We Meant What We Said! - Enforcing Contract Language Despite Assertions Of Bad Faith And Insurer ’Misconduct’ During The Adjustment Of The Claim
This is one of a series of articles originally published in Mealey’s Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, Vol. 24, #10 (September 23, 2010). 2010
[Editor’s Note: John V. Garaffa is a Partner and Jason M. Seitz is an associate with the law firm of Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Tampa, Florida. Any commentary or opinions do not reflect the opinions of Butler or Mealey’s Publications. Copyright 2010 by Jason M. Seitz and John V. Garaffa. Responses are welcome.]
May 01, 2010 PUBLICATION A New Profit Center in the Economic Downturn
Litigation concerning benefits for business interruption is seldom an exciting spectator sport. However, Safeguard Storage Properties LLC v. Donahue Favret Contractors, Inc., an ongoing case in the civil district court in New Orleans, has the potential to put Louisiana jurisprudence at the center of the legal map.
April 23, 2010 PUBLICATION How Speculative is Speculative? Testing the Limits of Business Interruption Coverage
This is one of a series of articles under Property Insurance Law Committee originally published in ABA Committee News, Winter 2010
April 23, 2010 PUBLICATION When Does It End? The Claim for Unlimited Business Interruption
This is one of a series of articles under Property Insurance Law Committee originally published in ABA Committee News, Winter 2010
July 30, 2009 PUBLICATION Writ Of Certiorari Dismissed As Improvidently Granted -- The Ambiguous End To Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Williams
On March 31, 2009, the United States Supreme Court dismissed, as improvidently granted, a writ of certiorari in Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Williams. While the reason for the court’s action remains a mystery, it seemed to signal an end to the court’s interest in the central constitutional issue in the case: punitive damages. Unfortunately, the court’s decision to abandon the issue leaves both the litigants and observers wondering what, if anything, had been gained by years of decisions, reversals and remands.
July 15, 2008 PUBLICATION Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker: Sailing Into The Confluence Of Common Law And Constitutional Standards For Punitive Damages
On June 25, 2008, the United States Supreme Court issued its much anticipated opinion in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker. The Supreme Court reduced the punitive damage award from 2.5 billion dollars to 507 million dollars, an amount approximately equal to the jury’s award of compensatory damages. While the decision certainly warmed the hearts of Exxon’s previously discomfitted stockholders, the Court’s opinion provides only limited encouragement to defendants involved in the current punitive damage lottery.
August 01, 2007 PUBLICATION Ethics: Concerns About Lawyer Competency in The Brave New World of Electronic Discovery
As one court has characterized it, a ‘certificate of admission to the bar’ is a pilot’s license which authorizes its possessor to assume full control of the important affairs of others and to guide and safeguard them when, without such assistance, they would be helpless. In re Discipline of Laprath, 670 N.W.2d 41 (S.D. 2003). While the freedom suggested by that imagery might be a bit overstated, the assertion that the qualifications of a counsel assuming responsibility for a case are critical to the potential outcome is not.
June 19, 2007 PUBLICATION Williams v. Philip Morris Inc. II - The Fog of Legal Rationale
On February 20, 2007, the United States Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated second opinion in the negligence and fraud suit brought by the widow of Jesse Williams against Philip Morris. Mrs. Williams had asserted that the company had purposefully taken actions to obscure the dangers of smoking and, as a result, her husband was deceived into believing smoking was not harmful, a 47 year delusion that ultimately led to his illness and death.
January 01, 2007 PUBLICATION Discovery of the Insurer’s Claims File: Exploring the Limits of Plaintiff’s Fishing License
The Joan Fullam Irick Privacy Project
September 19, 2006 PUBLICATION Remanded in Light of State Farm v. Campbell: The Opportunity For Further Illumination Presented by Williams v. Philip Morris Inc.
On May 30, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court again granted a petition for writ of certiorari in the ongoing dispute between Philip Morris and the widow of Jesse Williams, an Oregon resident who died of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes for about 47 years.
April 01, 2006 PUBLICATION The Uncertain Scope of Hurricane Damage Under State Valued Policy Laws
The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the Gulf Coast region have highlighted a number of issues that go to the heart of things both personal and governmental. The social and psychological devastation wrought by windstorms like Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita continue to shape the way the public perceives the region and its public officials. Somewhat less appreciated is the impact that those storms have had upon more prosaic issues like insurance and the value of taxable property that ultimately have broad economic effects on the region as a whole
July 01, 2005 PUBLICATION Florida’s Valued Policy Law - The Eye of the Storm
Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne have once again brought Florida insurance law under the microscope. In the midst of this examination is Florida’s valued policy law. For most insureds and their attorneys, there is an expectation that insurance will be available to return the insured’s property to its pre-storm condition. Unfortunately, even for professionals, there are common misconceptions about the interplay of contract and law in this area. One such common misconception is the proper application of Florida’s valued policy law.
January 18, 2005 PUBLICATION Piece Of Mind: The Utah Supreme Court’s Response To Campbell
Given that the Utah Supreme Court (“Utah”) previously reinstated a 145 million punitive damages award in favor of the Campbells, it is not surprising that on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, this same state high court goes to great lengths to justify the largest punitive damages award it believes could possibly survive further constitutional review.
July 07, 2004 PUBLICATION The Continuing Need for De Novo Review of Punitive Damage Awards -- Liggett Group, Inc. v. Engle
In Liggett Group Inc. v. Engle, the Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed the largest punitive damage award in history. The circumstances of the award indicate it would have bankrupted the defendants and was, in essence, a civil death sentence. If that were the only error, Engle would merely mark another notch in the continued upward spiral of American jury awards. However, the compounded procedural and constitutional errors in Engle make it particularly useful for those who wish to examine the pros and cons of the current system of punitive damages.
August 13, 2003 PUBLICATION Reflections - Thirty Years After Gruenberg v. Aetna Ins. Co.
It has long been accepted that parties to an insurance contract have an obligation to deal with each other fairly and in good faith. As early as 1914, this obligation was found to be grounded within an implied covenant within the contract between the insurer and its insured. If a denial of benefits under the policy was ultimately resolved by a suit on the contract of insurance, a policyholder who prevailed would receive the amount due plus interest. The recognition of a cause of action for the tortious breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing in the context of the first-party contract of insurance is relatively recent.
PUBLICATION Recent Developments In Property Insurance Law
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts in New York and New Jersey. These courts are trying to manage their dockets in ever more efficient ways. As the two year anniversary of the storm approached, more and more suits were filed. These suits address numerous issues, including application of flood sub-limits to coverages other than actual property damage, such as debris removal and time element.
September 08, 2017 BLOG POST Important Reminders for Adjusting Hurricane Claims
The number of claims arising from a significant wind event such as Hurricane Irma can create intense time pressure on insurers and their adjusters. The insurer must promptly acknowledge each claim and make prompt inspection. Given the anticipated number of claims, the adjusters need to make that inspection as thorough as possible. Our experience has taught us that the following steps increase the effectiveness of the inspection and make it more likely that the insurer’s decision on the claim will be fully informed. This is not an exhaustive list. Each loss and claim is unique and must be evaluated on its own facts and merits.
September 07, 2017 BLOG POST Hurricane Irma Policy Laws by State
This weekend Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 Hurricane, is expected to subject South Florida to potentially catastrophic wind, rain and storm surge and then move north along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Irma is the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, outside the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean. It has also set a record for the amount of wind energy recorded over a 24-hour period. If Irma strikes South Florida, it could deliver the first widespread damage to the region since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
July 25, 2017 BLOG POST That Sinking Feeling: Sinkholes, Florida Law, and Some Questions Raised by The Recent Collapse in Land O’ Lakes
The recent catastrophic ground cover collapse in Land O’Lakes attributed to a sinkhole highlights the unique aspects of Florida geology and the impact it can have on the risks faced by building owners and their insurers. In central and western Florida, the land generally consists of a layer of limestone topped by layers of clays and sands. The limestone is a vestige of the shells and skeletons of marine life deposited during prehistoric periods when that layer was at the bottom of shallow seas. Over time, limestone was formed and covered by layers of silts and sands. The limestone is slowly dissolved by groundwater, and constitutes part of the aquifer.
July 13, 2017 BLOG POST Ransomware is taking the world by storm; does insurance respond?
Although ransomware attacks have existed for some time, they have recently increased in scope and severity. There will be more in the future. Unfortunately, companies around the world have suffered significant losses from these attacks. If a company submits its losses to an insurance carrier, one has to carefully study and analyze the types of policies the company has purchased, and the policies’ coverage terms, conditions, and exclusions in light of the facts.
January 18, 2017 BLOG POST SAFEGUARDING EVERY VETERAN’S BENEFITS: LESSONS FROM BRUCE V. MCDONALD, 2017 WL 57172
On January 5, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rejected the assertion by the Veteran’s Administration (VA) and the Board of Veterans Appeals (the Board) that a service member who requested a discharge in Lieu of Court Martial after an unauthorized absence of 42 days was barred from seeking veteran’s benefits for an injury he had suffered on active duty.
October 28, 2015 BLOG POST When Revenge Is Not So Sweet: The Wages of Revenge Porn under Florida’s New Cyber Harassment Statute
Policyholders who seek coverage for the monetary consequences of a violation of the statute under the “personal and advertising injury” or general liability coverage in their insurance’ policies are likely to find themselves looking elsewhere for funds.
September 26, 2014 BLOG POST When It Comes to Sinkholes, Contracts, Statutes and Regulations Do Matter
On August 21, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit vacated the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Shelton v. Liberty Mutual, Case number 13-15371 / D.C. Docket No. 8:12-cv-02064-JSM-AEP. This decision confirms that the statutory definitions for structural damage under the May 17, 2011 amendments to the Florida sinkhole statutes apply to property policies issued after those amendments were enacted. The court’s order reversed the positions taken by the District Court that seemed bent on plotting a new course for Florida jurisprudence.
July 22, 2014 BLOG POST Florida Defines How Certain Commercial Entities Must Handle Personal Information
Effective July 1, 2014, Florida enacted what some have described as one of the country’s most detailed and comprehensive statutes governing the duties of commercial entities that acquire, maintain, store, or use personal information, including potential penalties related to the loss of such data. Rather than simply amending the previous provision, Florida Statute 817.5681, the Florida Legislature repealed the previous statute and replaced it with Florida Statute 501.171, entitled the “Florida Information Protection Act of 2014.” The new statute governs the storage and disposal of private information and sets out specific requirements in the event of the loss of such data, whether through inadvertence or through a “breach” of data storage systems.
November 11, 2016 SPOTLIGHT John Garaffa Earns Veterans Network Meritorious Service Award!
Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig is proud to announce that Partner John Garaffa, earned the Veterans Network Meritorious Service Award for his active duty service and post-service pro bono legal work on behalf of veterans.
August 09, 2018 EVENT Southern Loss Association’s Annual Property Seminar
Adjuster Ethics Presented by John Garaffa at the Southern Loss Association
April 07, 2017 EVENT ABA Spring Meeting - WHOSE MONEY IS IT? RECOGNIZING INSURABLE INTERESTS, LIENHOLDERS, AND OTHERS
John Garaffa from Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig along with co-presenter Rabih Hamadi presented in Orlando, FL at the ABA Spring Meeting on the topic of Whose Money is it? Recognizing Insurable Interest, Lienholders, and Others on April 7, 2017.
March 21, 2017 EVENT 6th Annual Cyber Liabilities Insurance ExecuSummit - After the Breach: Response and Subrogation Strategy
John V. Garaffa from Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig along with Mathew Scott and Hillard M. Sterling, were panelists in Uncasville, CT at the 6th Annual Cyber Liabilities Insurance ExecuSummit on the topic of After the Breach: Response and Subrogation Strategy on March 21, 2017.
June 24, 2015 EVENT RIMKUS 12th Annual Continuing Education Seminar
Rimkus is hosting a 2-day seminar of Florida Continuing Education accredited courses for up to 12 hours of credit units. Day 1 will consist of six one hour courses on varied pertinent topics. Day 2 will be dedicated to a Legislative and Property Case Law Update, as well as the new 5hr Law & Ethics CE required course.
May 07, 2015 EVENT American Bar Association Spring Meeting
From Claim To Verdict: Litigating The Complex Commercial Property Insurance Claim
May 17, 2013 EVENT Property Insurance Law Committee Annual Spring CLE Meeting
Pollution and Fungus, Wet Rot, Dry Rot and Bacteria
July 21, 2011 EVENT Tampa Association of Insurance Professionals
2011 Changes to Florida Statutes
March 03, 2011 EVENT HomeWise Claims Conference
Recent Florida cases
February 04, 2008 EVENT Florida Property Insurance Law Update
2008 Wind Conference
October 09, 2018 NEWS Butler Awarded the 2018 TVC Chairman’s Award
Butler has been awarded the 2018 TVC Chairman’s Award in recognition for our service provided to veterans and their families.
February 13, 2018 NEWS 2018 Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Annual Diversity Networking Social
Every year, we are excited to sponsor the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Annual Diversity Networking Social. This HCBA Tampa Bay event allows us to meet up-and-coming law students and new lawyers with diverse backgrounds.
May 04, 2017 NEWS John Garaffa is now the Committee Chair for the TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee
Partner John Garaffa was selected to become the Committee Chair for the TIPS Property Insurance Law Committee for the years 2020-2021.
May 02, 2016 NEWS John Garaffa Authors a Chapter in Latest Edition of The Comprehensive Guide to Economic Damages
Now in its fourth edition, The Comprehensive Guide to Economic damages includes a chapter authored by Butler’s own John Garaffa. The guide serves as a deep resource for financial experts and attorneys seeking guidance on damage calculations. A digital download of the publication is available here, and physical copies will be released later in May.
December 23, 2015 NEWS John V. Garaffa recently authored When the Policy Follows the Property: The Challenges Posed by Mortgagee Rights.
John V. Garaffa recently authored “When the Policy Follows the Property: The Challenges Posed by Mortgagee Rights” published in the New Appleman on Insurance’s Current Critical Issues in Insurance Law Fall 2015. Published by LexisNexis, Appleman on Insurance has long been considered a comprehensive resource in the field of insurance law. It is showcased by LexisNexis as an “authoritative analyses of insurance law across the nation with insights provided by expert practitioners and scholars. . . . ”
May 21, 2008 NEWS Louisiana Supreme Court cites Butler attorney John Garaffa as authority on Gulf Coast valued policy laws.
Louisiana Supreme Court cites Butler attorney John Garaffa as authority on Gulf Coast valued policy laws.
•Defense Research Institute (DRI)
•Property and Liability Research Bureau
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