Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

Ryan K. Hilton is a partner who joined Butler in 2002.  Ryan focuses his practice on third-party liability coverage disputes and provides guidance to insurance companies in complex, pre-suit, policy-limit demand situations.  Ryan has extensive experience with coverage issues, particularly in construction, auto and trucking cases. Ryan also has experience with choice-of-law issues that impact insurance coverage considerations.  Ryan has litigated coverage extensively in the federal courts. He has also published numerous industry articles.

Ryan received his Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, from Ball State University in 1996, graduating from the Honors College. He received his Juris Doctor degree, cum laude, from Stetson University College of Law. While at Stetson, Ryan served as a law clerk for the Honorable Paul Levine in the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida. Upon graduation, Ryan received the William F. Blews Pro Bono Service Award. After graduating from law school, Ryan worked as a staff attorney in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Florida before joining our Tampa office.

Ryan is admitted to practice in all of the state and federal courts of Florida as well as the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  Ryan is an AV peer-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell.


  • Florida


  • Ball State University
    Bachelor of Science
  • Stetson University
    Doctor of Jurisprudence


  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA)
  • The Florida Bar


  • Florida Federal Courts (Middle District)
  • Florida Federal Courts (Southern District)
  • United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals


National Specialty Ins. Co. v. ABS Freight Transportation, Inc., et al., 91 F.Supp.3d 1258 (S.D. Fla. 2014) aff’d, --- Fed. Appx. ----, 2016 WL 737780 (11th Cir. Feb. 25, 2016)

General Fidelity Ins. Co. v. Foster, et al., 808 F.Supp.2d 1315 (S.D. Fla. March 24, 2011)

Peak Property and Cas. Co. Ins. Corp. v. Ensslin, et al., Slip Copy, 2014 WL 2124270 (M.D. Fla. May 21, 2014)

Chartis Property & Cas. Co. v. Jassy, et al., Slip Copy, 2013 WL 5921541 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 4, 2013)

Direct General Ins. Co. v. Vreeman, 943 So. 2d 914 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006)

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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September 22, 2014 PUBLICATIONCourts' Different Views On Additional Insureds' Duties Under Liability Policy Notice Provisions

Liability policies typically require the insured to provide prompt notice of a claim or suit. Notice is regarded as a condition precedent to the insurer's duty to defend or indemnify. The notice provisions in a typical liability policy seem straightforward. However, issues surrounding notice become complicated when an additional insured, who is typically not a party to the insurance contract and sometimes unnamed in a policy, is involved. Under those situations, courts have had to address, among other issues, the sophistication and resources of the additional insured, whether the additional insured is aware that coverage potentially exists or even that policies potentially exist, whether the jurisdiction requires the additional insured to actually tender the claim or suit or whether another insured's tender of the claim or suit is sufficient and whether there was late notice or no notice at all by the additional insured. Different jurisdictions have reached different results. 

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April 25, 2014 PUBLICATIONAn Insurance Carrier's Good Faith Obligations Toward Its Insureds In Liability Settlements Where Not All Of the Insureds Are Released

Generally, liability insurers must secure a release of all of their insureds when settling claims against their insureds. However, some courts have recognized circumstances where an insurer may settle for an insured at the exclusion of another while still maintaining its good faith duties toward all of its insureds. Other courts have seemingly rejected the notion that an insurer can ever settle for one of its insureds at the exclusion of others. These release issues occur most prevalently in automobile accidents involving insured owners and additional insured drivers.  

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September 26, 2013 PUBLICATIONSome Considerations In Addressing Time-Limit Demands

Liability insurance carriers should be prompt and proactive when they receive a time-limit demand from a claimant. Time is usually not on the carrier's side when it comes to these settlement communications.

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July 25, 2013 PUBLICATIONAn Insurer's Liability For A Hospital Lien After Settlement Of A Claim That Impairs The Lien

Over forty states have hospital lien laws. Those laws typically allow hospitals to recover against parties, including insurers, who impair their liens. In many states, the hospital lien laws do not clearly identify the type and extent of damages a hospital can recover against a party who impairs a hospital lien. The damages a hospital can recover from a party who impairs a lien depends upon the language of the applicable hospital lien law and the courts' interpretations of that law. Results vary from state to state. 

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March 22, 2012 PUBLICATIONA Liability Insurer's (Almost Absolute) Right To Settle Claims Without The Insured's Consent

Many cases hold that a liability insurer can settle a claim against its insured without the insured’s consent because the policy language gives an insurer the right to settle even when an insured may not want to settle.1 For the most part, courts in California, Florida, and Louisiana allow insurers to settle claims without the insured’s consent where the policy gives the insurer the right to settle as it deems expedient. However, courts may nonetheless consider whether a settlement may have adversely impacted the insured to determine whether an insurer acted in good faith.

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January 30, 2012 PUBLICATIONBest Laid Plans: How the Definition of "Occurrence" in CGL Cases Continues To Change

Some courts have held that faulty workmanship or improper construction is not an "occurrence" because it is not an "accident." Other courts have held that defective construction may constitute an "occurrence" when "property damage" results from the "unexpected, unforeseen, or undesigned happening or consequence" of the insured's negligent behavior. Yet other courts have held that defective construction itself is not an "occurrence," but any damage resulting from defective construction may be an "occurrence" even if it is damage to the insured's project.

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June 23, 2011 PUBLICATIONChoice-Of-Law Principles Affecting Insurance Bad-Faith Claims

[R. Steven Rawls is a partner and Ryan K. Hilton is a senior associate with the law firm of Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP, which has offices in Tampa, Chicago, Charlotte, Mobile, Tallahassee, and Miami. This commentary expresses the author's opinions–not the opinions of Butler or Mealey's. Copyright © 2011 by R. Steven Rawls and Ryan K. Hilton. Responses are welcome.] 

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August 26, 2010 PUBLICATIONChinese-Drywall Cases And Their Impact On Liability-Insurance Carriers In Settling Multiple Claims In Good Faith Against Their Insureds In Certain State Courts

This is one of a series of articles originally published in Mealey's Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, Vol. 24, #8 (August 26, 2010). © 2010  

[Editor's Note: Steve Rawls is a partner and Ryan K. Hilton is a senior 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 R. Steve Rawls and Ryan K. Hilton. Responses are welcome.]

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October 22, 2009 PUBLICATIONDoes An Insured Owe A Duty Of Good Faith To Its Insurer When The Insured Is Responsible For Defense Costs In A Self-Insured Retention?

Many businesses are increasingly utilizing insurance policies with large self-insured retention endorsements in order to exercise better control over the defense of claims. In these circumstances, an issue may arise regarding whether an insured who is responsible for defense costs under a self-insured retention ("SIR") owes a duty of good faith to its insurer.

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November 16, 2004 PUBLICATIONHospital Lien Laws and Personal Injury Settlements

Many jurisdictions have hospital lien laws. These laws ensure payment to hospitals for the beneficial services they provide. Some jurisdictions liberally interpret these laws so that technical deficiencies in establishing or seeking enforcement do not defeat payment to the hospitals. Other jurisdictions are less likely to ignore such deficiencies.

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January 21, 2004 PUBLICATIONDo Liability Insurers Have A Duty To Make An Offer Where There Is No Claim Against The Insured?

A liability insurer has a duty to handle and settle claims made against its insured in good faith. Courts have grappled with whether this duty requires an insurer to make a settlement offer when there is no claim against the insured.

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October 25, 2010 EVENTChinese Drywall Litigation and Coverage Conference

Chinese Drywall Litigation and Coverage Conference

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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Appellate
  • Attorney Fee Disputes
  • Bad Faith
  • BOP
  • CCIP - Contractor Controlled Insurance Program
  • CGL
  • Civil Remedy Notices
  • Class Action
  • Commercial General Liability
  • Complex Liability Litigation
  • Construction Defect Litigation
  • Coverage - Bodily Injury
  • Coverage - First Party Automobile
  • Coverage - First Party Property
  • Coverage - Personal Injury
  • Coverage - Property
  • Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
  • Excess Coverage
  • Extracontractual Claims
  • General Casualty Litigation
  • General Liability - Coverage
  • Hospital Liens
  • Multi-District Litigation
  • Personal Injury Protection
  • Premises Liability
  • Products Liability
  • Standard Liability
  • Third Party Coverage Issues
  • Third Party Liability
  • Toxic Torts
  • Trucking