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Jonathan Barger is a Partner with the Chicago office of Butler. His primary focus is First-Party Property Claims and related Coverage Litigation, from large, complex commercial claims to personal lines claims. Jon also has significant experience defending third-party liability claims related to large property losses and international commercial litigation. He has worked on claims in excess of $250 million dollars throughout the United States and internationally.

Jon has substantial trial and litigation experience both regionally and nationally. He routinely handles all aspects of litigation and has tried numerous jury trials, including as lead trial counsel.

Jon assists insurers with first-party claim issues ranging from legal assistance with claims investigations, conducting examinations under oath, and providing coverage opinions. He defends insurers against allegations of breach of contract, bad faith, and other extra-contractual relief. Jon has significant experience with fire losses and the multiple issues that arise from fire investigation methods and techniques, fire cause and origin determination, fire spread, and fire suppression system performance. In addition to his fire loss background, he has handled cases involving water, mold, wind damage, as well as other types of property damage.

Jon advises internationally-based insurers on claims involving significant liability exposures throughout the United States, including product liability, D&O liability, and financial lines claims. His international experience includes working with European market insurers and defending European companies in U.S. Courts. His international background and expertise places him in a unique position to handle cases with complex jurisdictional issues.

Jon is a frequent insurance industry speaker and educator, providing training sessions and speaking at insurance industry conferences across the country on a wide range of property and other insurance topics. He volunteers as an instructor for training and continuing education for fire investigators with the Illinois Fire Service Institute at the University of Illinois, as well as the Illinois chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators (“IAAI”).

Jon received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French language and literature from Vanderbilt University. He studied with the Vanderbilt-in-France program in Aix-en-Provence and with the Centre International d’Études Françaises (“CIEF”) at the Université Lumière Lyon 2. He is fluent in French, with full business proficency. He received a Juris Doctor degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, along with a Certificate in International and Comparative Law.










  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois


Petersen Properties

  • Liability defense related to warehouse fire in Davenport, IA. Potential exposure in excess of $250 million. Suit in Iowa State Court involved property owner, multiple commercial tenants, and loss prevention/insurance company.

Ports of Indiana

  • First-party property claim in Indiana Federal Court involving alleged damage to commercial dock wall on Lake Michigan. Claim in excess of $13 million.

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

  • Liability defense related to church fire in northern Illinois. Potential exposure in excess of $4 million. Suit in Federal court involving alleged negligence on part of insured defendant due to service work performed on church organ over one month prior to fire.

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders

  • Liability defense related to fire in private luxury residence in Lake County, Illinois. Claim in excess of $1 million, with allegation of negligence in causing fire as a result of construction activities.

Delta Precision

  • First-party claim following fire loss, involving appraisal of business income loss and extra expense claims in excess of $700,000. Allegation that insurer denied claim when appraisal of claim resulted in value of zero. Dismissal of complaint with prejudice based on appraisal policy provision.

Federated Department Stores (Bloomingdale’s)

  • Liability defense related to water damage at department store in Chicago. Potential exposure in excess of $1.1 million. Suit in Federal Court involved allegations of negligence by insured defendant in fire sprinkler system renovation.


  • First-party arson denial on personal lines policy, including disputed innocent co-insured coverage issues. Case settled following jury trial in Cook County, Illinois.


  • Liability defense related to fire at neighboring residence where client’s burning of yard waste was alleged cause of fire. Jury verdict for client defendant in Cook County, Illinois.

The Herrington Inn & Spa

  • First-party property coverage issue concerning application of surface water exclusion to flood loss at boutique hotel. Jury verdict in favor of client insurer in Illinois State Court, affirmed on appeal.


Nevada Division Of Insurance Issues Notice To Property And Casualty Insurers Disallowing New Exclusions Related To Covid-19, Viruses, Or Pandemics

ON JUNE 16, 2020, THE NEVADA DIVISION OF INSURANCE (“NVDOI”) ISSUED A NOTICE TO PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURERS regarding the disallowance of new exclusions related to COVID-19, viruses, or pandemics. The Notice states that the NVDOI "will not approve any new policy or endorsement language containing exclusions of coverage that specifically mention COVID-19, viruses, or pandemics."...

Coronavirus and Property Insurance Policies

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness or death. The virus has spread to every state in the United States prompting a variety of responses by federal, state and local governments. Those actions have included orders mandating or recommending social distancing, limiting the number of people who can be in a public venue, closure of restaurants and...

Plrb 2019 – Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies For Property Adjusters

Partner Jonathan Barger, Nanci L. Smilie of Erie Insurance Group and Judy Sporlein of Liberty Mutual Insurance presented "Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies for Property Adjusters" at the PLRB Claims Conference & Insurance Services Expo in Indianapolis, IN on April 2-3, 2019. This presentation: Identified common areas of disagreement in commercial and personal lines claims Distingu...

Congratulations to our Newest Partners!

As we move into the new year, please join us in congratulating our firm's newest Partners!...

Liar, Liar, House On Fire: Investigation Of A Suspected Arson Claim

Jonathan Barger co-presented on the topic "Liar, Liar, House on Fire: Investigation of a Suspected Arson Claim" for the PLRB Large Loss Conference on November 27, 2018. The presentation will cover various claim investigation strategies for arson claims....

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Jonathan Barger Featured in Plrb Online Training Module

Jonathan Barger, along with co-presenter Nanci Smilie of Erie Insurance, recorded a presentation on "Adjusting in Good Faith: Property Claim Ethics" for The Property and Liability Resource Bureau’s (PLRB) online training modules. PLRB members can access the module through this link....

Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies For Property Adjusters

Join Jonathan Barger presented “Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies for Property Adjusters” along with co-panelists Judy Spoerlein and Nancy Smilie at the Western Loss Association’s Fall Meeting....

Plrb Claims Conference- Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies For Property Adjusters

Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig Attorney, Jonathan Barger, along with co-presenter Nanci Smilie of Erie Insurance Group presented at the PLRB Claims Conference in Orlando on April 15th and 18th. Their topic was on "Resolving Difficult Claims: Strategies for Property Adjusters." During the presentation, Jon and Nanci discussed: Identify common areas of disagreement in commercial and personal line...

Western Loss Association Annual Meeting – Property Claim Ethics

Jonathan Barger from Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig presented in Delavan, WI at the Western Loss Association Annual Meeting on the topic of "Property Claim Ethics"....

Jonathan Barger was Recognized at the 2017 Plrb Claims Conference

At the 2017 PLRB Claims Conference & Insurance Expo in Boston, Senior Associate Jonathan Barger was bestowed the Outstanding Presentations Award. This honor recognizes Jonathan’s commitment to the PLRB over a 9-year span, speaking at 15 PLRB conferences during this time. Jonathan has spoken on a wide range of topics at PLRB conferences. His first speaking engagement with PLRB was titled “...

Plrb Claims Conference – Property Claim Ethics: Adjusting In Good Faith

Jonathan Barger from Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig along with co-presenter Nanci L. Smilie, presented in Boston, MA at the PLRB Claims Conference on the topic of "Property Claim Ethics: Adjusting in Good Faith" on March 28, 2017. ...

Builders Risk Coverage & Adjustments

Jon Barger spoke at the 2016 Central and Eastern Regional Conferences for PLRB, on the topic of "Builders Risk Coverage & Adjustments". The presentation included typical coverage and exclusions afforded by builders risk policies, recent court decisions regarding builders risk losses, current adjustment challenges in handling these losses, and subrogation possibilities with common builders ris...

Plrb Eastern Regional Adjusters Conference

Jon Barger spoke at the 2015 Eastern Regional Adjusters Conference on November 10—11, 2015 in Atlanta, GA. John's topic was, “Claims Ethics and Good Faith Adjustments.”...

Western Loss Association

Clark Schirle and Jonathan Barger will be speaking at the Western Loss Association 2015 Fall Conference on September 24, 2015 in Delevan, WI. Clark and Jon's topic is, "Water, Water Everywhere (Coverage Issues on Flood, Surface Water; Litigation of Surface Water Case through Trial and Appeal)."...

Plrb Western Regional Adjusters Conference

Jon Barger spoke at the 2015 Western Regional Adjusters Conference on June 16—17, 2015 in Frisco, TX. John's topic was, “Claims Ethics and Good Faith Adjustments.”...

Plrb Claims Conference

Jonathan Barger spoke at the 2015 PLRB Claims Conference on March 29—April 1, 2015 in Anaheim, CA. Jonathan's topic was, "The Innocent Co-insured: When Coverage Can Exist for an Intentional Act."...

Plrb Regional Adjusters Conference

Jonathan Barger spoke at the PLRB Regional Adjusters Conference on September 16 & 17, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jonathan's topic was, "New Tool for Fire and Explosions Investigations."...

Plrb Claims Conference

Jonathan Barger spoke at PLRB's 2013 Claims Conference in Boston on March 17, 2013.  Jonathan's topic was, "Art of Persuasion for the Claims Professional."...

Plrb Claims Conference

Jonathan spoke at the PLRB 2012 Claims Conference. The topic was, "Art of Persuasion For The Claims Professional."...

International Association Of Arson Investigators (“Iaai”), Illinois Chapter

Jon Barger will be speaking at the International Association of Arson Investigators ("IAAI"), Illinois Chapter on November 1—12, 2011  John's topic is, “Expert Witness - Courtroom Testimony Class.”...

Building A Convincing Property Arbitration Case

Jon Barger will be speaking at the Property & Liability Resource Bureau (PLRB),  on April 3—6, 2011  John's topic is, “Building a Convincing Property Arbitration Case.”...

Jonathan Barger