Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

Lee Craig is a Partner at Butler, having joined the firm in 1989. Lee is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer, and specializes in the defense of first-party insurance matters. He also has experience in alleged fraud cases, as well as bad faith and other consequential damages litigation.

Lee received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Maryland School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, Lee served as a law clerk for two years for the Honorable Clarence E. Goetz, Chief United States Magistrate Judge, United District Court for the District of Maryland.

Lee is an active member of the Defense Research Institute and an in-demand lecturer. When he’s not litigating, Lee enjoys boating, baseball, fine art, jazz, and literature.

Admissions

  • Florida
  • Maryland

Education

  • University of Maryland
    Bachelor of Arts degree in English
  • University of Maryland
    Doctor of Jurispudence

Memberships

  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)
  • Federal Bar Association
  • The George Edgecomb Bar Assocation (GEBA)

Courts

  • Florida District Courts
  • Maryland District Courts
  • United States Fourth and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals
  • United States Supreme Court
December 18, 2002 PUBLICATIONCan It Be 'Bad Faith' For An Insurer To File A Declaratory Action?

In recent months, insurance company clients of the author have faced allegations that the filing of a declaratory action, by an insurer, to determine or cut off coverage, is bad faith. This is a somewhat novel and, as it turns out, disfavored cause of action. To begin with, a “declaratory judgment action is the preferred manner of deciding a dispute between an insured and insurer over the construction and effect of the terms of the insurance contract.”

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March 21, 2001 PUBLICATIONDiminished Value In Auto Damage Claims

We have seen, in recent years, a spate of actions for bad faith, and class actions, on the issue of so-called diminished value. These suits claim payment by the insurance company of the actual cash value of a property loss - or the cost to repair a loss - does not make the insured whole. This is because of some intangible quality in the property that cannot be restored by repair. Before the loss it was pristine or original. Afterward it is corrupted or compromised. It is worth less in the market.

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August 22, 2000 PUBLICATIONIs It Bad Faith to Settle Covered Claims Only?

It is beyond dispute that the duty to defend, under liability insurance, is contractual, and is broader than the duty to indemnify. National Grange Mut. Ins. Co. v. Continental Cas. Ins. Co., 650 F. Supp. 1404 (S.D.N.Y. 1986). Even if some allegations of the complaint clearly are outside the scope of coverage, the insurance company is obligated to defend the entire suit. Id. See also, Aerojet-General Corp. v. Transport Indemnity Co., 948 P.2d 909 (Cal. 1997).

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June 20, 2000 PUBLICATIONThe Public Adjuster's Perspective

Mr. Lesser is a prominent public adjuster. His business office is located in Miami Beach, Florida. The views and opinions stated by Mr. Lesser in this interview are his own. Neither Mr. Craig, nor Butler , necessarily approve or agree with any of them.

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May 19, 2000 PUBLICATIONContractors' Bonds: Who Can Sue The Surety For Bad Faith?

A contractor's performance and payment bond creates rights and obligations among three parties ­ the principal, the obligee and the surety. The principal may be the general contractor or a subcontractor. The obligee (under a performance bond) usually is the owner of the project or (under a payment bond) the subcontractors, materialmen and equipment suppliers. The surety most often is an insurance company or financial institution engaged, among other things, in the business of issuing performance and payment bonds.

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April 18, 2000 PUBLICATIONThree Reasons Why Loss Reserves Ought Not Be Admissible In A Bad Faith Case

In the trial of a bad faith case, plaintiff often tries to put into evidence the reserves the insurance company set for the claim. This article contends that evidence ought not be admissible. It will outline three reasons why not.

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March 01, 2000 PUBLICATIONIssue Revisited: Who Can Sue The Surety For Bad Faith Under A Construction Bond?

In this journal, in May 2000, the author discussed the then recent decision in Ginn Construction Co. v. Reliance Insurance Co., 51 F. Supp. 2d 1347 (S.D. Fla. 1999). He argued that, contrary to a suggestion in Ginn, an obligee under a general contractor's performance bond ought not be allowed to sue the surety for bad faith. This article will look at some decisions handed down since. The trend is toward no bad faith liability by a surety to either an obligee or a principal under a surety bond.

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February 15, 2000 PUBLICATIONPerfunctory Defense

per-func-to-ry   per-fúngk'te­re   adj.   Done or acting routinely andwith little interest or care. The American Heritage Dictionary, NewSecond College Edition (1983).

The Scenario

Consider a common scenario. An insurance company issues a liability policy. The policyholder does something, or fails to do something, as a result of which a partyis injured. The injured party becomes the plaintiff, and the policyholder the defendant,in a tort action. The insurance company reviews the tort action and sees right awaythat probably it is not covered. It retains a defense attorney to handle the tort action butsends a reservation of rights letter to the policyholder and files a separate declaratoryaction to determine coverage. So far so good. See, e.g., Insurance Co. of the West v.Haralambos Beverage Co., 195 Cal. App. 3d 1308, 1319 (1987).

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December 21, 1999 PUBLICATIONMalicious Defense

This is one of a series of articles under the by line "Butler on Bad Faith" originally published in Mealey's Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, Vol. 13, #16, p. 25 (December 21, 1999). © Copyright Butler 1999.

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November 16, 1999 PUBLICATIONWhy A First Party Insurer Is Not A Fiduciary

Courts, commentators, lawyers and others have applied the word "fiduciary" to insurance companies and insurance claims in a loose manner. The result has been bad law and confusion over if and when an insurer is a fiduciary. This article will argue that an insurer does not, and ought not, owe a fiduciary duty to an insured who has presented a first party claim.

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July 20, 1999 PUBLICATIONAdvice of Counsel: Insurance Companies' First and Last Line of Defense / Mealey's Litigation Reports: Bad Faith

The dynamic nature of bad faith law throughout the country practically mandates that insurers have ongoing legal advice to protect the interests of the company, the shareholders and all insureds. Such advice can prevent unwitting misconduct by the insurer. The "advice of counsel defense" in the context of insurance bad faith litigation issimply an insurer asserting, as proof that it did not act in bad faith, that it reasonably relied on the advice given by its legal advisors.

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July 01, 1999 PUBLICATIONStandard of Care in First Party Bad Faith Actions: Is "Fairly Debatable" Fair?

Since the early 1970s, when first-party bad faith actions came into being, a considerable body of law has developed on the standard of care for insurers to avoid liability. In creating and defining such standards, courts have struggled to balance the interests of insureds and insurers. This article is a general review of those decisions and standards.

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March 16, 1999 PUBLICATIONStatute of Limitations in a Bad Faith Action: Which One Applies and When Does It Accrue?

Determining which statute of limitations governs a cause of action against an insurer for bad faith is complicated. It depends on whether the action is a first or third party action. It depends also on whether the controlling jurisdiction deems the action to be one sounding in tort or contract.

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December 15, 1998 PUBLICATIONFederal Preemption of Extracontractual Claims Under Flood Insurance Policies

During the past year, numerous areas in the United States have experienced severe and, at times, unprecedented flooding. Whether the flooding occurred as a result of the active Atlantic hurricane season or the effect of "El Nino" on national weather patterns, the result for insurers is the same: an increase in the number of claims under flood insurance policies. With this comes a corresponding increase in the likelihood of extracontractual or bad faith claims.

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December 14, 1998 PUBLICATIONSupplement to Federal Preemption of Extracontractual Claims Under Flood Insurance Policies

This is a supplement to the December 1998 article published in Mealey's Litigation Reports: Bad Faith on "Federal Preemption of Extracontractual Claims Under Flood Insurance Policies" following the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversal of its decision on rehearing in Van Holt v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. This supplement was originally published in Mealey's Litigation Report: Bad Faith, Vol. 12, #18, p. 27 (Jan. 19, 1999). Copyright Butler 1999.

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November 17, 1998 PUBLICATIONThe Expanding Scope of Discovery in Bad Faith Cases

Bad faith litigation is complex and the stakes are high. In such cases, the discoveryprocess has become critical as litigants struggle for advantage. The litigation often raisesissues outside the facts of the particular case or claim. The conduct of the insurancecompany as a whole sometimes is placed on trial.

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October 20, 1998 PUBLICATIONDoes a Liability Insurer Have a Duty to Initiate Settlement Negotiations?

Liability insurance policies typically provide the insurer with complete control over thedefense and settlement of third-party claims against the insured. This control imposesupon the insurer a duty to exercise good faith in settling claims. When the claimant makesa reasonably prudent offer to settle within the policy limits, courts generally agree the good-faith duty owed an insurer will require the insurer to settle the case. 

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August 18, 1998 PUBLICATIONChoice of Law in Bad Faith Cases

The substantive law of bad faith is not uniform from state to state. Some states treat bad faith as a breach of contract; some as a tort. In some states, punitive damages are available. In others, they are not. Some allow claims for emotional distress, while others reject them.

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July 21, 1998 PUBLICATIONRecovery of Damages for Emotional Distress in Tort, Contract and Statutory Bad Faith Actions

Emotional distress damages may be the most significant aspect of any bad faith action in jurisdictions that allow them. This article outlines the several theories that justify the recovery of such damages. It discusses also the impact of a recent Florida Supreme Court decision which authorized recovery for emotional distress under that state's bad faith statute.

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Events

June 18, 2015 EVENTDRI Bad Faith Insurance Litigation Seminar
DRI Bad Faith Insurance Litigation Seminar
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June 05, 2014 EVENTCanadian Defence Lawyers Annual Meeting
Canadian Defence Lawyers Annual Meeting
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March 30, 2011 EVENT2011 DRI Insurance Coverage & Claims Institute
2011 DRI Insurance Coverage & Claims Institute
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April 14, 2010 EVENTButler Partner Lee Craig -- Committee Chair
Butler Partner Lee Craig -- Committee Chair
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January 27, 2010 EVENT79th Annual Meeting & Mid-Winter Educational Program
79th Annual Meeting & Mid-Winter Educational Program
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December 03, 2009 EVENTButler Partner Lee Craig -- Chair of Insurance Law Committee
Butler Partner Lee Craig -- Chair of Insurance Law Committee
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April 29, 2007 EVENTJudicial Decisions and Catastrophe Claims
Judicial Decisions and Catastrophe Claims
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April 11, 2007 EVENTIn the Hot Seat: Preparing the Company Witness for Trial
In the Hot Seat: Preparing the Company Witness for Trial
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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Admiralty
  • Appellate
  • Arson
  • Bad Faith
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business Interruption - Coverage
  • Business Owner's - Coverage
  • Civil Remedy Notices
  • Class Action
  • Collections - Commercial Litigation
  • Commercial Lease Construction and Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation - Collections
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Bonds
  • Coverage - Business Interruption
  • Coverage - Business Owner's
  • Coverage - First Party Property
  • Coverage - Homeowner's
  • Coverage - Inland Marine
  • Coverage - Property
  • Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
  • Disability Fraud
  • Extracontractual Claims
  • Fidelity
  • Fidelity and Surety
  • Fire (Suspected or Potential Fraud)
  • First Party Coverage Issues
  • Homeowner's - Coverage
  • Homeowner's - Insurance
  • Hurricane Losses
  • Inland Marine - Coverage
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Libel
  • Premium Fraud
  • Professional Liability
  • Professional Malpractice - Legal
  • Reinsurance Coverage
  • Slander
  • Surety
  • Surety Bond