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Ryan K. Hilton is a Partner who joined Butler in 2002. He is the co-chair of the Firm’s Aviation practice group, and focuses his practice on Third-Party Liability Coverage disputes. Ryan has extensive experience with coverage issues, particularly in auto, aviation, construction and trucking cases. He also has experience with choice-of-law issues that impact insurance coverage considerations. Ryan frequently provides guidance to insurance companies in handling pre-suit time-limit demands. He has also litigated coverage extensively in the federal courts and is an AV peer-rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell.

A seasoned author, Ryan is published in numerous industry articles. He was awarded JD Supra’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Top Author Award for his writing and thought leadership on drones and aviation law and is a co-author of Butler on Drones Editions 1 and 2. Ryan is also an FAA- licensed pilot with an instrument rating which gives him first-hand insight into the world of aviation.

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.

Admissions

  • Florida

Education

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

Memberships

  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • Drones: Regulations, Operations and Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air and Space Law
  • Hillsborough County Bar Association (HCBA)
  • The Florida Bar

Courts

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

Experiences

REPRESENTATIVE CASES

National Specialty Ins. Co. v. ABS Freight Transportation, Inc., et al., 91 F.Supp.3d 1258 (S.D. Fla. 2014) aff’d, 644 Fed. Appx. 900 (11th Cir. 2016)

St. Paul Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Cypress Fairway Condominium Assoc., Inc., et al., 114 F.Supp.3d 1231 (M.D. Fla. 2015)

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)

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

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

LICENSES

FAA PRIVATE PILOT, SINGLE-ENGINE LAND, INSTRUMENT RATING

Media

Common Sense” Conquers “Creative Pleading,” As The Eleventh Circuit Applies Narrow Exception To Florida’s “Four-Corners” Rule To Prevent Plaintiff From “Pleading Into Coverage”

On July 23, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, applying Florida law, looked beyond an operative complaint to relieve an insurer of its duty to defend in BBG Design Build, LLC v. Southern Owners Insurance Company.1 In the case, the First Amended Complaint alleged that the plaintiff sustained injuries in 2014 when she worked part-time at a domestic resource center that BBG Design Build was...

New Appleman Florida Insurance Law (2020 Edition)

JOHN V. GARAFFA, SARAH R. BURKE, RYAN K. HILTON, JULIUS F. "RICK" PARKER III, JASON M. SEITZ, J. BLAKE HUNTER, CAROL M. ROONEY, JAMES MICHAEL SHAW, JR. The 2020 Edition of the New Appleman Florida Insurance Law is now available. This book was edited by Partner John Garaffa and co-authored by Partners Sarah Burke, Ryan Hilton, Julius "Rick" Parker III, Carol Rooney, Jason Seitz, James Michael Sh...

Drones: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Cancel Your Pirate Insurance

This article is originally a publication of DRI's Insurance Law Committee newsletter on November 27, 2019. Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved. Drones are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Drones are being used for recreational purposes, business/commercial purposes, and law-enforcement purposes. The United States is experiencing a proliferati...

Butler On Drones (Third Edition): A Practical Guide For Insurers

Drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—are a transformative technology affecting the recreational and commercial sectors at an accelerating pace.   As the U.S. airspace becomes more crowded with these flying robots, insurers need to stay informed as to the rapidly changing legal landscape as their insureds, and insurers themselves, begin to u...

Ryan Hilton for Jd Supra’s 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards

Join us in congratulating Partner Ryan Hilton for his recognition as a Top Author in his subject area of Airlines and Aviation. JD Supra's 2019 Readers' Choice Awards recognizes top authors for their visibility and thought leadership covering 26 key, cross-industry topics and firms for their engagement in the 26 topics covered by the awards. JD Supra editors chose the 26 main topics covered in ...

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The Federal Aviation Authority Reauthorization Act of 2018 and Its Effect on Drones

The Federal Aviation Authority (“FAA”) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (the “Act”) was signed into law on October 5, 2018, by President Donald Trump.[1] The Act was the first five-year FAA reauthorization since 1982. Such reauthorizations provide the FAA with guaranteed funding for the next five years. The Act contains a plethora of supplementary provisions in addition to the provisions regard...

Drone Accident Excluded Under CGL Policy’s Aircraft Exclusion

In the most recent edition of our book, Butler on Drones, we reported that ISO has issued specific exclusions for unmanned aircraft for inclusion into CGL policies, but it was an open question whether a CGL policy’s standard aircraft exclusion already excluded coverage for liability arising from the use of a drone. A California federal district court has now weighed in on the question – the f...

FAA Releases Drone Identification and Tracking Report that the FAA Will Consider in Drafting its Final Rule on In-Flight Drone Accountability

Law enforcement agencies want accountability when it comes to drone flights, especially when those flights are over people. Enabling a drone and its owner/operator to be quickly identified by law enforcement is necessary toward the expansion of the authorized use of drones to include flights over people and beyond the line of sight as well as the safe integration of drones in the National Airspace...

Recreational Drone Registration Requirement Has Returned

Back on December 21, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required drone owners to register their drones if their drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds (small drones). The registration was valid for three years.  Basically, anyone who possessed a drone for recreational use had to pay $5.00 to register their drone online with the FAA.  Following that requirement...

Drone Restrictions Over Certain Military Bases, Landmarks, and Department of Energy Facilities

The Federal Aviation Administration’s (“FAA’s”) authority to institute airspace restrictions derives from 14 CFR § 99.7, “Special Security Instructions,” which is intended to address national security concerns from the Department of Defense and U.S. Federal security and intelligence agencies.  Effective April 14, 2017, the FAA-designated drone-restricted flight areas around 133 mili...

Butler On Drones (Second Edition) : A Practical Guide For Insurers

Drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) – have left no industry unaffected, and the insurance industry is perhaps affected most of all. Unlike manned aircraft, whose risks are largely confined to the industry’s aviation sector, the affordability, versatility, and ubiquity of drones are bringing exposures to sectors of the insurance industry th...

Florida Insurance Litigation (2017 Edition)

LexisNexis Practice Guide: Florida Insurance Litigation provides the practitioner with immediate access to knowledge and strategy on every aspect of insurance practice in Florida. The publication concisely presents the terms, conditions and exclusions that govern coverage offered against the risks under each line of insurance. This approach provides a comprehensive exploration of key concepts, pol...

Drone 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 of 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 d...

If You Invade Someone’s Privacy With A Drone, Your Insurance Might Not Cover It

This article originally appeared in Property Casualty 360. Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved. 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. Able to accomplish feats that manned aircraft and even traditional remote-...

The Pitfalls Affecting Admission Of Expert Bad Faith Testimony Under Daubert

This article originally appeared in Claims Management, a publication of the Claims & Litigation Management Alliance (CLM). Legal opinions may vary when based on subtle factual differences. All rights reserved. Two recent federal cases highlight the challenges practitioners face in presenting expert claims handling testimony in bad faith litigation under the Daubert standard.[1]  In the fir...

Butler On Drones: A Practical Guide For Insurers

Unmanned Aircraft Systems - better known as "drones" - are about to change the way most everything is done. The Consumer Electronics Association estimated that there were 700,000 new drone owners in 2015, and 2016 is expected to bring even more. These new drones (and new drone owners) have already begun to bring about transformative changes in several industries, but no industry will be more affec...

Flying Witnesses: Admissibility Of Drone-Gathered Evidence In Florida

This article was originally published in the Winter 2016 edition of Trial Advocate Quarterly. Reprinted with permission. 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...

Courts’ Different Views On Additional Insureds’ Duties Under Liability Policy Notice Provisions

I. Introduction 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 insuran...

An 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 fo...

Some 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.   Insurance Bad Faith...

An 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 la...

A 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 s...

Best 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."2 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.3 Yet other courts have held that defective con...

Choice-Of-Law Principles Affecting Insurance Bad-Faith Claims

This is one of a series of articles originally published in Mealey's Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, Vol. 25, #5 (June 23, 2011). © 2011   [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 op...

Chinese-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...

Does An Insured Owe A Duty Of Good Faith To Its Insurer When The Insured Is Responsible For Defense Costs In A Self-Insured Retention?

This is one of a series of articles originally published in Mealey's Litigation Report: Insurance Bad Faith, Vol. 23, #12, page 27 (October 22, 2009). © 2009 [Editor's note: Steve Rawls is a partner with the law firm of Butler Weihmuller Katz Craig LLP in Tampa, Florida. He devotes his practice to third party bad faith, liability coverage, and liability defense. Ryan Hilton is a senior associat...

Hospital Lien Laws And Personal Injury Settlements

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. 18, #14, p. 30 (November 16, 2004). © Copyright Butler 2004.    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...

Do Liability Insurers Have A Duty To Make An Offer Where There Is No Claim Against The Insured?

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. 17, #18, p. 18 (January 21, 2004). © Copyright Butler 2004. 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 settlem...

Ryan Hilton