Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

Steve Rawls is a Partner at Butler. His practice focuses upon coverage and bad faith issues. Steve has published several articles about coverage and bad faith topics.  He routinely addresses coverage and bad faith issues found in many different types of claims, including claims for construction defects, professional liability, personal and advertising injury, trucking, products and automobile liability and primary/excess matters.  Steve is admitted to the state and federal courts of Florida and to the 4th, 5th and 11th federal Circuit Courts of Appeal.

Steve is recognized as an authority on insurance coverage.  He often speaks about insurance coverage issues at seminars and presentations.  Steve also writes about insurance coverage topics.  He has contributed to treatises and published dozen of articles.  Steve’s work has appeared in the West treatise The Law and Practice of Insurance Coverage Litigation and Recurring Issue in Insurance Disputes and publications such as For The Defense, Mealey’s Bad Faith Reporter, IRMI and the CGL Reporter, among others.  Recently Steve contributed to the DRI’s multi-state compendium “Professional Liability Insurance Coverage: A Compendium of State Law.”

Steve has worked at the Butler firm since his 1991 graduation from the University of Florida College of Law.


  • Florida


  • University of South Florida
    Bachelor of Independent Studies
  • University of Florida
    Doctor of Jurisprudence


  • American Bar Association's Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section
  • Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI)


  • Florida Courts (Middle District)
  • Florida Courts (Northern District)
  • Florida Courts (Southern District)
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit
  • United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
May 22, 2014 PUBLICATIONBurden Of Proof Issues In Consent Judgments

When a carrier refuses to defend its insured, the insured may consent to entry of a stipulated judgment. 1 In most jurisdictions the insured (or claimant) bears the burden of proof to show coverage exists as a prerequisite to recovery of an excess judgment. 2 The burden of proving coverage for a consent judgment can sometimes create problems. Consent judgments raise many other issues beyond the scope of this article. 3  

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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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January 26, 2012 PUBLICATIONWho Killed Reverse Bad Faith? And Why It Could Make A Comeback

In every state in the union an insured can seek some form of compensation for an insurer’s ‘‘bad faith’’ in adjusting a claim.Yet only one state, Tennessee, currently allows an insurance company to recover damages caused by the insured’s bad faith.This imbalance has allowed ‘‘bad faith’’ litigation to become big business.The tendency of courts to treat insureds like a disadvantaged class has created an uneven playing field for insurance companies in claims adjustment.

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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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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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February 07, 2007 PUBLICATIONThe Scope of Ongoing Operations Additional Insured Endorsements: Broader than Expected

Additional insured endorsements come in all shapes and sizes. Some cover the sole negligence of the additional insured. Others cover the additional insured only for the named insured's negligent acts. Still others cover particular projects or a particular activity. In every case, the language of the endorsement and the jurisdiction's interpretation of that language governs the scope of the coverage provided.

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July 01, 2006 PUBLICATIONPre-Tender Defense Costs: Who Pays?

International Risk Management Institute (©Copyright July 2006) (with Rebecca Applebaum) 

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June 15, 2006 PUBLICATIONSelected Third-Party Bad Faith Liability Standards Governing Failure to Settle Cases

Under liability insurance policies, insurance companies assume the obligation of defending their insureds. In so doing, carriers can settle and foreclose their insured's exposure or refuse to settle, leaving the insured potentially exposed to damages that exceed the policy limits.  Most courts find that this obligation places insurers and insureds in a fiduciary (or fiduciary-type) relationship.  Accordingly, courts recognize that an insurer owes a duty to the insured to refrain from acting solely on the basis of the insurer's own interests in settlement. This duty extends to situations where an insurer has an opportunity to settle a third-party liability claim against its insured within policy limits and requires an insurer to pay an excess judgement against an insured, where the carrier in good faith should have settled.
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April 01, 2006 PUBLICATIONAre Products Advertisements That Give Rise to Advertising Injury Coverage?

International Risk Management Institute (©Copyright April 2006) (with Rebecca C. Appelbaum)  

Please contact the attorney for a copy of the article.

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January 01, 2006 PUBLICATIONAllocation of Damages for Ongoing Losses Over Multiple Policies -- Who Pays and How Much?

International Risk Management Institute (©Copyright January 2006) (with Rebecca C. Appelbaum)  

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October 01, 2005 PUBLICATIONThe Scope of the Prior Publication Exclusion: Now You See It, Now You Don't

International Risk Management Institute (©Copyright October 2005) (with Rebecca C. Appelbaum)  

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June 07, 2005 PUBLICATIONAn Insurer's Liability For Punitive Damages In An Excess Judgment

Ging v. American Liberty Insurance Company, 423 F.2d 115 (5th Cir. 1970) is a case often cited for the proposition that third party insurers who act in bad faith could be held liable for punitive damages awarded against their insureds. However, the strength of this proposition appears to depend upon the extent to which a jurisdiction would permit the insurability of punitive damages. Those jurisdictions that permit coverage for punitive damages would also likely permit recovery of those damages later as a result of the carrier's bad faith. Jurisdictions whose public policy precludes insuring against punitive damage awards, may be more reluctant to permit recovery in a later bad faith action, depending upon the nature of the liability giving rise to the punitive damage award.

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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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July 16, 2003 PUBLICATIONWhat is a "Reasonable" Settlement When There Are Multiple Claimants?

Sometimes several people sustain injuries in an accident. This article addresses a recent decision of Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal, Farinas v. Florida Farm Bureau General Insurance Company, that discusses what liability insurers should do when several people sustain injuries in an accident caused by the insured and the value of most, if not all, of each individual claim exceeds policy limits. This article discusses the basis for the Farinas holding and identifies some questions raised by Farinas.

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November 21, 2001 PUBLICATIONRecognizing Subtle Exposures To Avoid Bad Faith Claims

“The insurer does not . . . insure the entire range of an insured's wellbeing outside the scope of and unrelated to the insurance policy, with respect to paying third party claims. It is an insurer, not a guardian angel.”

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October 17, 2001 PUBLICATIONJustices: Please Take This Case!

Two recent state court decisions jeopardize the right of insurers to consult legal counsel when considering whether to pay or deny the claim of a policyholder. The Arizona and Ohio state supreme courts have issued opinions eroding, even abrogating, the attorney client and work product privileges. In one of these decisions, Boone v. Vanliner, 744 N.E.2d 154 (Ohio 2001), the insurer has petitioned the United States Supreme Court to issue the writ of certiorari, hear the case and reverse the Ohio Supreme Court. The undersigned urges the United States Supreme Court to take the Vanliner case for the reasons stated below.

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September 19, 2001 PUBLICATIONAdditional Insured Coverage And Bad Faith

Coverage determinations regarding the nature of policy duties that liability insurers owe to additional insureds may create bad faith exposure for the unwary insurer. Bad faith liability frequently arises when an insurer fails to recognize the scope of defense and indemnification obligations it owes to an additional insured. Issues also arise when additional insureds compete with named insureds for limited policy proceeds which cannot adequately protect the interests of both. This article highlights the source of the dilemma – the scope of the coverage afforded to an additional insured – and provides illustrations of bad faith exposure in the wake of claims asserted against additional insureds.

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January 01, 2000 PUBLICATIONBad Faith Findings in the Absence of Coverage

Claimants sometimes seek bad faith damages from their insurer even when there is no coverage for the loss or claim. Courts have split on the issue of whether a carrier can be held liable for bad faith when there is no coverage. Courts often analyze this issue differently for first party and third party claims. Whether a claim involves both covered and non ­covered claims also affects the analysis of this issue.

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September 21, 1999 PUBLICATIONGood Faith Settlement of Claims in Excess of Policy Limits Against Multiple Insureds


Insurers and insureds alike may find themselves in the dark when claims against multiple insureds exceed policy limits. Only a few jurisdictions explicitly have addressed how policy proceeds should be allocated in this situation. The jurisdictions that have addressed the issue have split into two general camps. Some hold that carriers must allocate proceeds proportionately among all insureds. Other jurisdictions hold that a carrier need only act in "good faith" and may settle on behalf of fewer than all insureds. The manner of proportional allocation and the characteristics of a "good faith" settlement under such circumstances are not well described in the case law.

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January 19, 1999 PUBLICATIONDuty of Insurers to Advise Insureds of Policy Benefits

This article considers whether an insurer has a duty to advise an insured of policy benefits not claimed. Some courts require insurers to protect an insured's interests affirmatively by informing the insured of available benefits. Other courts have refused to impose this duty upon insurers. Recent cases suggest a trend toward imposing this duty.

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January 01, 1996 PUBLICATIONDiscovery Issues in Bad Faith Cases

Mr. Rawls is a contributing author of the chapter entitled "Discovery Issues in Bad Faith Cases," Recurring Issues in Insurance Disputes:  A Guide for Insurers and Insureds, 1996

Please contact the attorney for a copy of the article.

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January 01, 1993 PUBLICATIONAttacking the Consent Judgment: Corralling the Horse That Gets Out of the Barn

Defense Research Institute, 1993 (Steve Rawls as an uncredited author with John Weihmuller)  

Please contact the attorney for a copy of the article.

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PUBLICATIONLitigating Coverage During the Pendency of the Underlying Tort Suit

Mr. Rawls is a contributing author of the chapter entitled "Litigating Coverage During the Pendency of the Underlying Tort Suit,"  West's treatise Law and Practice of Insurance Coverage Litigation.

For information regarding this article, please contact Steve Rawls.

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Blog Posts

July 24, 2014 BLOG POSTThe Emperor's New Property Damage?
The Emperor's New Property Damage?
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June 11, 2015 EVENTFlorida Construction Law Seminar
Florida Construction Law Seminar
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June 25, 2014 EVENTMC Consultants 2014 East Coast Conference
MC Consultants 2014 East Coast Conference
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March 16, 2014 EVENT2014 PLRB Claims Conference
2014 PLRB Claims Conference
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June 19, 2013 EVENTMCC East Region Conference
MCC East Region Conference
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November 08, 2011 EVENTPLRB/LIRB 2011 Regional Adjusters Conferences
PLRB/LIRB 2011 Regional Adjusters Conferences
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October 20, 2011 EVENTChinese Drywall Litigation Conference 2011
Chinese Drywall Litigation Conference 2011
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September 07, 2011 EVENTPLRB/LIRB 2011 Regional Adjusters Conferences
PLRB/LIRB 2011 Regional Adjusters Conferences
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June 23, 2010 EVENTChinese Drywall Seminar
Chinese Drywall Seminar
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June 02, 2010 EVENT4th Annual East Region CD Conference- MC Consultants
4th Annual East Region CD Conference- MC Consultants
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June 04, 2009 EVENTChinese Drywall Coverage Panel
Chinese Drywall Coverage Panel
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May 27, 2009 EVENTRisk Transfer on Chinese Drywall Panels
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Key Points
Practice Area CASE TYPE
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Appellate
  • Asbestos
  • Bad Faith
  • BOP
  • Catastrophic Injuries
  • CCIP - Contractor Controlled Insurance Program
  • CGL
  • Civil Remedy Notices
  • Class Action
  • Commercial Lease Construction and Litigation
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Complex Liability Litigation
  • Construction Contract Administration
  • Construction Defect Litigation
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Bonds
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Design
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Earth Movement
  • Construction Defect Litigation - EIFS
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Excess Claims
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Indemnity Claims
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Roof
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Sinkholes
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Stucco
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Subsidence
  • Construction Defect Litigation - Windows
  • Contractor Controlled Insurance Program
  • Contribution Claims
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Coverage - Advertising Injury
  • Coverage - Bodily Injury
  • Coverage - Business Owner's
  • Coverage - First Party Automobile
  • Coverage - Homeowner's
  • Coverage - Personal Injury
  • Crop Losses
  • Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices
  • Environmental - Contamination Liability
  • Environmental - Hazardous Waste Liability
  • Environmental Liability - Chemicals
  • Environmental Liability - Mold
  • Excess Coverage
  • Extracontractual Claims
  • Federal Multi-District Litigation
  • Fidelity and Surety
  • General Casualty Litigation
  • General Liability - Coverage
  • Healthcare Insurance Fraud
  • Housing Authority Liability
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Intellectual Property
  • Malicious Prosecution
  • Mass Torts
  • MDL - Mass Torts
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Multi-District Litigation
  • Negligent Hiring
  • Negligent Security - Violent Crimes
  • Negligent Supervision
  • Owner Controlled Insurance Program - OCIP
  • Patent Litigation
  • Personal Injury Protection
  • Premises Liability
  • Products Liability
  • Professional Liability
  • Professional Malpractice - Engineering/Architecture
  • Professional Malpractice - Medical
  • Professional Malpractice - Municipal Liability
  • Reinsurance Coverage
  • Slander
  • Third Party Coverage Issues
  • Toxic Tort - Chemicals
  • Toxic Tort - Isocyanates
  • Toxic Tort - Mold
  • Toxic Torts
  • Underinsured Motorist
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Wraps
  • Coverage - Boiler and Machinery
  • Coverage - Inland Marine
  • Environmental Liability - Isocyanates
  • Uninsured Motorist