Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

Jonathan Barger is a Senior Associate with the Chicago office of Butler.  His primary focus is first-party property claims and related coverage litigation, from large, complex commercial claims to personal lines claims.  Jon also has significant experience in large loss property subrogation, defending third-party liability claims related to large property losses, and international commercial litigation.  He has worked on claims in excess of $250 million dollars throughout the Midwest and across the United States.

Jon has substantial trial and litigation experience both regionally and nationally.  He routinely handles all aspects of litigation and has tried numerous jury trials, including serving as lead trial counsel.

Jon has significant experience with fire losses and the multiple issues that can arise from fire investigation methods and techniques, fire cause and origin determination, fire spread, and fire suppression system performance.  He volunteers as an instructor for training and continuing education for fire investigators with the Illinois Fire Service Institute at the University of Illinois, as well as the Illinois chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators (“IAAI”).

Jon assists insurers with first-party claim issues ranging from legal assistance with claims investigations, conducting examinations under oath, and providing coverage opinions.  He defends insurers against allegations of breach of contract, bad faith, and other extra-contractual relief.  In addition to his fire loss background, he has handled cases involving water, mold, wind damage, as well as other kinds of property damage.

Jon advises internationally-based insurers on claims involving significant liability exposures throughout the United States, including product liability, D&O liability, and financial lines claims.  His international experience includes working with European market insurers and defending European companies in U.S. Courts.  His international background and expertise places him in a unique position to handle cases with complex jurisdictional issues.

Jon is a frequent insurance industry speaker and educator, providing training sessions and speaking at insurance industry conferences across the country on a wide range of property insurance and other topics.  He has spoken at the annual PLRB Claims Conference, the PLRB Regional Adjuster Conferences, and at various claim adjuster associations.

Jon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French language and literature from Vanderbilt University in 1997.  He studied with the Vanderbilt-in-France program in Aix-en-Provence and with the Centre International d'Études Françaises (“CIEF”) at the Université Lumière Lyon 2.  He is fluent in French, with full business proficency. He received a Juris Doctor degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2002, along with a Certificate in International and Comparative Law.


  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin


  • AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell


  • Vanderbilt University
    Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
    Doctor of Jurisprudence


  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
  • Western Loss Association


  • U.S. Court of Appeals, SEVENTH DISTRICT
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

Petersen Properties

  • Liability defense related to warehouse fire in Davenport, IA. Potential exposure in excess of $250 million. Suit in Iowa State Court involved property owner, multiple commercial tenants, and loss prevention/insurance company.

Ports of Indiana

  • First-party property claim in Indiana Federal Court involving alleged damage to commercial dock wall on Lake Michigan. Claim in excess of $13 million.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

  • Liability defense related to church fire in northern Illinois. Potential exposure in excess of $4 million. Suit in Federal court involving alleged negligence on part of insured defendant due to service work performed on church organ over one month prior to fire.

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders

  • Liability defense related to fire in private luxury residence in Lake County, Illinois. Claim in excess of $1 million, with allegation of negligence in causing fire as a result of construction activities. 

Delta Precision

  • First-party claim following fire loss, involving appraisal of business income loss and extra expense claims in excess of $700,000. Allegation that insurer denied claim when appraisal of claim resulted in value of zero. Dismissal of complaint with prejudice based on appraisal policy provision.

Federated Department Stores (Bloomingdale’s)

  • Liability defense related to water damage at department store in Chicago. Potential exposure in excess of $1.1 million. Suit in Federal Court involved allegations of negligence by insured defendant in fire sprinkler system renovation.


  • First-party arson denial on personal lines policy, including disputed innocent co-insured coverage issues. Case settled following jury trial in Cook County, Illinois.


  • Liability defense related to fire at neighboring residence where client’s burning of yard waste was alleged cause of fire. Jury verdict for client defendant in Cook County, Illinois.

The Herrington Inn & Spa

  • First-party property coverage issue concerning application of surface water exclusion to flood loss at boutique hotel.  Jury verdict in favor of client insurer in Illinois State Court, affirmed on appeal.


November 10, 2015 EVENTPLRB Eastern Regional Adjusters Conference

Claims Ethics and Good Faith Adjustments

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September 23, 2015 EVENTWestern Loss Association

Water, Water Everywhere (Coverage Issues on Flood, Surface Water; Litigation of Surface Water Case through Trial and Appeal).

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June 16, 2015 EVENTPLRB Western Regional Adjusters Conference

Claims Ethics and Good Faith Adjustments

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March 29, 2015 EVENTPLRB Claims Conference

The Innocent Co-insured: When Coverage Can Exist for an Intentional Act

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September 16, 2014 EVENTPLRB Regional Adjusters Conference

New Tool for Fire and Explosions Investigations

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March 17, 2013 EVENTPLRB Claims Conference

Art of Persuasion for the Claims Professional

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April 15, 2012 EVENTPLRB Claims Conference

Art of Persuasion For The Claims Professional

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November 01, 2011 EVENTInternational Association of Arson Investigators ("IAAI"), Illinois Chapter

Expert Witness - Courtroom Testimony Class

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April 03, 2011 EVENTBuilding a Convincing Property Arbitration Case

Building a Convincing Property Arbitration Case

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October 19, 2009 EVENTPLRB Regional Conference

Appraisal Mediation & Arbitration Case

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September 09, 2009 EVENTPLRB Regional Conference

Appraisal Mediation & Arbitration Case

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June 24, 2009 EVENTPLRB Regional Conference

Appraisal Mediation & Arbitration Case

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September 09, 2008 EVENTPLRB Regional Conference

Appraisal Options with Property Claims

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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Arson
  • Bad Faith
  • Catastrophic Loss
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Earth Movement
  • Coverage - Business Interruption
  • Coverage - First Party Property
  • Coverage - Homeowner's
  • Coverage - Inland Marine
  • Coverage - Property
  • Explosions
  • Extracontractual Claims
  • Fire Spread Litigation
  • Fraud
  • Heavy Equipment Claims
  • Insurance Fraud
  • International Law
  • Multi-District Litigation
  • Products Liability
  • Structural Collapse
  • Subrogation
  • Third Party Coverage Issues