Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

A Partner at Butler, James Michael Shaw, Jr. practices in our coverage-defense and extra-contractual departments, focusing primarily on defending claims of insurer bad faith.  He also represents insurance intermediaries, including agents and brokers, in defense of error-and-omission claims.  Mr. Shaw also has a background in aviation law, having represented airlines, aviation repair facilities, aircraft-part manufacturers, airports, and aviation insurers.  Since joining the firm in 2007, James has written and spoken on topics as diverse as insurance-intermediary liability, constitutional law, and the law governing Unmanned Aircraft systems, more colloquially known as  drones.  He is rated AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubble. 

James is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts; the United States District Courts for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Florida; and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the Florida Bar, Hillsborough County Bar Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union, for which he has chaired the Legal Panel for the Greater Tampa Chapter since 2007. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law, where he served as Articles and Comments Editor for the University of Miami Law Review.  James currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa and is a past Chair of the Charter and Bylaws Committee of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party.  James has also taught Legal Research & Writing as an adjunct professor for St. Petersburg College.


  • Florida


  • Oakland University
    Bachelor in Music Composition
  • University of Miami School of Law
    Doctor of Jurisprudence


  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Drones: Regulations, Operations and Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association's Forum on Air and Space Law
  • Florida Defense Lawyers Association (FDLA)
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA)
  • Order of the Coif
  • Phi Delta Phi
  • The Florida Bar

Bayfront Cent. Sec. & Sys., Inc. v. N.Y. Cent. Mut. Ins. Co., 17 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 181a (Fla. 6th Jud. Cir. 2010) – order dismissing multi-count complaint against New York automobile insurer

Bele v. 21st Century Centennial Ins. Co., 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D193a, 2015 WL 3875491 (M.D. Fla. May 15, 2015) – order denying motion to remand where Plaintiffs contended that the amount-in-controversy requirement had not been proven

Bele v. 21st Century Centennial Ins. Co., 126 F. Supp. 3d 1293 (M.D. Fla. 2015) – order dismissing an unripe bad-faith action and a declaratory-judgment claim seeking to fix damages in the bad-faith claim, both of which were joined to a claim for UM coverage

Bennett v. 21st Century Sec. Ins. Co., No. 2013-CA-012378-O, 2016 WL 4398685 (Fla. 9th Jud. Cir. Aug. 17, 2016) – summary judgment entered for insurer where underlying action was dismissed with prejudice pursuant to a joint stipulation for dismissal

Bollinger v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D159, 2012 WL 112937 (S.D. Fla. 2012), aff’d, 538 Fed. App'x. 857 (11th Cir. 2013) – summary judgment entered and affirmed in first-party bad-faith action where the plaintiff had not filed a Civil Remedy Notice

Borrego v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 24 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D350a, 2014 WL 2615192 (S.D. Fla. 2014) – order dismissing a spousal-derivative bad-faith action where Civil Remedy Notice was silent as  to the spousal claim

Higgins v. W. Bend Mut. Ins. Co., 85 So. 3d 1156 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) – summary judgment entered and affirmed against Minnesota plaintiffs attempting to invoke Florida law to assert a bad-faith claim against a Wisconsin insurer

Johnson v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 26 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D6a, 2016 WL 277768 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 22, 2016) –order denying remand of a removed bad-faith action appended to a UM case.  Read more.

Smith v. 21st Century Centennial Ins. Co., 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D52, 2014 WL 5474591 (M.D. Fla. 2014) – dismissing a declaratory-judgment action seeking to fix damages for an unripe bad-faith action and abating the unripe bad-faith action

Thorne v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 25 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. D117a, 2015 WL 809530 (M.D. Fla. 2015) – order denying a motion to remand an unripe bad-faith action asserted prior to the resolution of the underlying action for uninsured-motorist benefits

Thorne v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 25 Fla L. Weekly Fed. D116a, 2015 WL 864936 (M.D. Fla. 2015) – order dismissing an unripe bad-faith action brought before resolution of the underlying action for UM benefits

West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. v. Higgins, 9 So. 3d 655 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009) – certiorari quashing a trial-court order that required disclosure of an insurer’s post-judgment communications with its counsel

January 03, 2017 PUBLICATIONIf you invade someone's privacy with a drone, your insurance might not cover it

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial systems, can be equipped with cameras, thermal scanners, license plate readers and facial-recognition software.

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As one of the nation’s most preeminent jurists put it, domestication of horses did not give rise to a “law of the horse,” and the rise of the Internet era did not give rise to a “law of cyberspace.”1 Likewise, the proliferation of drones will not give rise to a new area of law called “drone law.” What will happen instead is much more complex.

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February 22, 2016 PUBLICATIONFlying Witnesses: Admissibility of Drone-Gathered Evidence in Florida

If reported surveys are accurate, Americans are ambivalent about the potential consequences of operating drones in both the public and private sectors; however, mixed feelings do not seem to be slowing the growth in their ownership and use. It seems inevitable that trial courts will be called on to exclude or admit evidence that was gathered remotely. The following article explains the legal framework the Florida courts will use when ruling on drone-gathered evidence.

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November 23, 2011 PUBLICATIONProximate Causation In Third-Party Bad Faith: Not Every Bad Decision Is A Bad-Faith Suit

Proximate causation is an element of a claim for bad faith. An often-overlooked element, but an element nonetheless. Even claims with grievous claim-handling errors and high excess judgments can still be very defensible if there is no proximate causation between the two. This article examines the element of the bad-faith cause of action that is most often glossed over. 

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February 24, 2011 PUBLICATIONThe Duty to Initiate Settlement Negotiations: Where Does it Begin and How Far Does it Go

In some jurisdictions, including Florida, the courts recognize a duty in some circumstances for a liability insurer to initiate settlement negotiations with a third-party claimant before the claimant has ever made a demand. This duty is a relatively recent invention in the common law and has yet to be fully defined. While most articles on the subject tend to focus on whether or not this duty should exist in the first place, this article skips that threshold question and delves into the particulars that apply in the jurisdictions that recognize it. What triggers the duty? What is required of the insurer to discharge it? What are the defenses to a claim for bad-faith failure to initiate settlement negotiations? This article tackles these emerging questions and more in attempt to define this nascent duty.

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May 13, 2010 PUBLICATION(Almost) Twenty Years After Powell: Case Studies On A Liability Insurer's Duty To Initiate Settlement Negotiations

The Florida Third District Court of Appeal’s 1991 decision in Powell v. Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Co. recognized a duty, in some circumstances, for a liability insurer to initiate settlement discussions with a third-party claimant who has not made a demand. The case proved to have a strong ripple effect, bringing about a sea change in bad-faith jurisprudence for the next twenty years. This article examines the expansion of Powell from a unique facts-driven anomaly to an entire branch of bad-faith jurisprudence and discusses early indications that the courts may be retreating again to applications more in line with the original case.

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February 25, 2010 PUBLICATIONExtracontractual Recovery Without Bad Faith

Insurance intermediaries (insurance agents and insurance brokers) are especially vulnerable to claims by insureds. While bad-faith actions continue to be the favored method of pursuing recovery beyond a policy limit, some litigants turn to claims against insurance intermediaries (and the insurers they represent) for extracontractual recovery. In addition to bad-faith law, insurers need to know what kinds of claims can be brought in relation to the procurement of the insurance policy itself and what defenses can be raised. This article delves into this often-misunderstood area of the law and illuminates some legal issues with which every insurer should be familiar.

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Blog Posts

April 13, 2017 BLOG POSTThe Answers to Some of Your Questions About What Airlines Can Do When a Flight is Overbooked and Someone Is Going to Have to Get Off of the Plane

Suddenly, the entire world is interested in learning about the laws governing airlines’ actions when a flight is overbooked. It isn’t every day that the entire world suddenly wants to learn all about something that you’ve spent years studying, so this post is for our clients who insure aviation risks, our clients who are frequent air travelers, and perhaps a few curious strangers who have no business with our law firm but have nonetheless been led here by their quest for answers. 

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October 03, 2016 EVENTSchoolchildren & the Constitution in 2016

American Civil Liberties Union

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June 01, 2012 EVENTPAF's 2012 Spring Seminar

Civil Liberties and New Technology

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February 17, 2017 NEWSDrone Insurance: Because You Will Crash Your Drone

Ryan Hilton and James Shaw, Jr., Partners at Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig, were featured in NerdWallet.com’s latest article written by Barbara Marquand, “Drone Insurance: Because You Will Crash Your Drone.” Be sure to read the article as Hilton and Shaw explain why it is important to check with your insurer about coverage for your drone, and why renters or home insurance doesn’t cover drones in certain instances.

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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Bad Faith
  • Civil Remedy Notices
  • Coverage - Personal Injury
  • Excess Coverage
  • Extracontractual Claims
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Professional Liability
  • Uninsured Motorist