Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

A Partner at Butler, John V. Garaffa practices in our construction, coverage defense, and cyber losses departments. He has extensive experience with construction defect litigation and cyber coverage and defense.

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.


  • Florida
  • Minnesota


  • University of Wisconsin
    Bachelor of Business Administration
  • University of Minnesota, College of Law
    Doctor of Jurisprudence
  • Georgetown University, College of Law
    Master of Laws


  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Property and Liability Research Bureau


  • Florida Courts (Northern, Middle and Southern Districts)
  • Florida State Courts
  • Minnesota State Courts
  • United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
  • United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
November 10, 2014 PUBLICATIONThe 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.

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March 01, 2014 PUBLICATIONBusiness 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.

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September 01, 2013 PUBLICATIONMind 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.

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February 23, 2012 PUBLICATIONBullock 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.

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August 15, 2011 PUBLICATIONDetermining 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...

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September 23, 2010 PUBLICATIONWe 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.]

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May 01, 2010 PUBLICATIONA 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.

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April 23, 2010 PUBLICATIONHow 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

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April 23, 2010 PUBLICATIONWhen 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

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July 30, 2009 PUBLICATIONWrit 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.

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July 15, 2008 PUBLICATIONExxon 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.

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August 01, 2007 PUBLICATIONEthics: 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.

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June 19, 2007 PUBLICATIONWilliams 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.

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January 01, 2007 PUBLICATIONDiscovery of the Insurer's Claims File: Exploring the Limits of Plaintiff's Fishing License

The Joan Fullam Irick Privacy Project

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September 19, 2006 PUBLICATIONRemanded 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.

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April 01, 2006 PUBLICATIONThe 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

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July 01, 2005 PUBLICATIONFlorida'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.

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January 18, 2005 PUBLICATIONPiece 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.

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July 07, 2004 PUBLICATIONThe 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. 

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August 13, 2003 PUBLICATIONReflections – 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.

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PUBLICATIONRecent 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.

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Blog Posts

September 26, 2014 BLOG POSTWhen It Comes to Sinkholes, Contracts, Statutes and Regulations Do Matter
When It Comes to Sinkholes, Contracts, Statutes and Regulations Do Matter
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July 22, 2014 BLOG POSTFlorida Defines How Certain Commercial Entities Must Handle Personal Information
Florida Defines How Certain Commercial Entities Must Handle Personal Information
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June 24, 2015 EVENTRIMKUS 12th Annual Continuing Education Seminar
RIMKUS 12th Annual Continuing Education Seminar
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May 07, 2015 EVENTAmerican Bar Association Spring Meeting
American Bar Association Spring Meeting
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May 17, 2013 EVENTProperty Insurance Law Committee Annual Spring CLE Meeting
Property Insurance Law Committee Annual Spring CLE Meeting
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July 21, 2011 EVENTTampa Association of Insurance Professionals
Tampa Association of Insurance Professionals
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March 03, 2011 EVENTHomeWise Claims Conference
HomeWise Claims Conference
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February 04, 2008 EVENTFlorida Property Insurance Law Update
Florida Property Insurance Law Update
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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Civil Remedy Notices
  • Coverage - Boiler and Machinery
  • Coverage - Business Interruption
  • Coverage - Business Owner's
  • Coverage - First Party Property
  • Coverage - Homeowner's
  • Coverage - Inland Marine
  • Coverage - Property
  • Fraud
  • Hurricane Losses
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Malpractice - Architecture