J. Tyler Butts

Associate

  • Overview

    Biography

    J. Tyler Butts represents the insurance industry in complex first-party property insurance coverage litigation throughout the country, with a focus on litigation concerning allegations of bad faith and other extra-contractual claims. He is part of the firm’s Litigation Section and a member of the firm’s Insurance + Reinsurance Group.

    Property Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation

    Mr. Butts has extensive experience litigating and advising clients on complex property insurance coverage issues and allegations of bad faith and unfair claims settlement practices arising out of large property losses. He has been involved in property coverage disputes in a number of states, including Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Mr. Butts routinely litigates high-exposure claims arising from a wide variety of insurance lines, including commercial property, business interruption and extra expense, builder’s risk, boiler and machinery, liability, and high net-worth homeowners. Mr. Butts is adept at working with expert witnesses in connection with property coverage disputes, including structural engineers, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, cost estimators, appraisers, and forensic accountants.

    Mr. Butts has significant experience handling lawsuits asserting claims for extra-contractual damages, such as those available in Massachusetts under Chapter 93A and in Connecticut under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) and Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA). He has successfully represented clients in arbitrations, appraisals, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. Mr. Butts has significant trial experience at both the state and federal level, having tried a number of cases to successful verdict, including recently recovering over $300,000 for his client after a jury trial determined that the insured homeowner had committed fraud when submitting her claim.

    Write-Your-Own Insurance Carriers - National Flood Insurance Program

    Mr. Butts has considerable experience representing Write-Your-Own insurance carriers in litigation brought under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program. He has litigated matters on behalf of WYO-carriers in a number of states, including New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and California. Mr. Butts has successfully moved to dismiss WYO cases seeking bad faith or punitive damages, as well as suits that failed to comply with the Standard Flood Insurance Policy’s preconditions for initiating suit. He has also successfully resolved a number of litigated matters prior to incurring significant fees in discovery and motion practice.

    Pro Bono

    Mr. Butts is committed to pro bono work. He participates in the firm’s Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program, and provides free legal services to family violence victims, including helping them obtain restraining orders and navigate the family court system. Mr. Butts also provides pro bono services to incarcerated individuals asserting violations of their civil rights under 28 U.S.C. § 1983. Because of his efforts, he was Robinson+Cole’s Pro Bono Service Award Recipient in 2013.

    Prior to joining Robinson+Cole, Mr. Butts worked with a national law firm on securities and probate litigation as well as on complex class action matters. Mr. Butts is a frequent author and contributor to Robinson + Cole’s Property Insurance Coverage Insights blog.

    Mr. Butts has been listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Insurance Coverage for 2015, 2016, and 2017 and in General Litigation for 2013 and 2014 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

        Property Insurance Litigation

      • Obtained a significant jury verdict for an insurance company client following a nine-day trial in Connecticut federal court. The case arose out of a series of property insurance claims made in 2011, after a significant water loss was followed by a total fire loss at the plaintiff's home. We defended the case based on the insurance policy's concealment or fraud provision and also asserted counterclaims for breach of contract and fraud. The plaintiff sought approximately $2 million while our client counterclaimed for the money it paid the plaintiff prior to discovering the fraud. The jury found against the plaintiff on the breach of contract claim and found for our client on its counterclaims for fraud and misrepresentation. Our client was awarded $330,000 in damages.

      • Represented a commercial property insurer in a federal New York lawsuit arising from the denial of eight separate claims across five of the insured’s supermarkets in New York and Pennsylvania. The claims, which involved losses allegedly caused by Hurricane Irene, power interruption, and copper thefts, were denied on the grounds that the damages claimed were fraudulently inflated and exacerbated by the actions of the insured. On the eve of trial, we were able to resolve the case through settlement on terms that were extremely favorable to our client.

      • Successfully obtained summary judgment for a commercial property insurer in a federal lawsuit in Oklahoma concerning extensive damage to the glass & glazing system of a 20-story commercial building in Oklahoma City caused when workers attempted to clean the adjacent concrete façade. The Court agreed with our position that the claimed damage was excluded by the policy’s exclusion for damage caused by faulty workmanship. We also represented the insurer at the Tenth Circuit as part of the insured’s appeal before the case resolved favorably.

      • Represented large commercial property insurer in fast-paced federal coverage litigation in Virginia arising out of extensive damage to an 8-building, 400-unit apartment complex in Maryland. The insured’s claim, which totaled in excess of $50 million, arose from the faulty workmanship of the original builders in the construction of, among other things, the buildings’ plumbing systems, HVAC systems, electrical systems, and exterior siding, fascia, and OSB system. Following extensive fact and expert discovery, we were able to successfully resolve the case on very favorable terms.

      • Successfully obtained a defense verdict following a one-day bench trial in Connecticut state court on behalf of property insurer who was accused of wrongfully failing to pay its insured for interior water damage. The court rejected the insured’s argument that the water damage caused by a bathroom pipe that had been leaking for months was covered, and found that, in denying the claims, the insurer had not committed bad faith or violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) or the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA).

      • Represented large commercial insurer in a claim dispute and subsequent alternative dispute resolution concerning Hurricane Sandy flooding damage to nearly one thousand new vehicles located along Gowanus Bay in Brooklyn, New York. The claim, which exceeded $20 million, involved complex underwriting issues, as well as policy coverage issues concerning the appropriate application of a flood endorsement.

      • Represented large commercial property insurer in New York federal court in case arising from $1 million claim for damage caused by the inadvertent release of asbestos while the insured was performing millwork on wood panels and door in connection with a renovation of the United Nations’ headquarters. The case involved difficult issues of business interruption valuation as well as the appropriate application of exclusions for workmanship and pollution. The case settled following cross-motions for summary judgment on very favorable terms.

      • Successfully represented large property insurer in Connecticut state court litigation involving a first- and third-party claim for damage caused by the leakage of nearly 400 gallons of fuel oil from an oil tank onto and around the insured property. Following the filing of a motion for summary judgment on numerous issues, including application of the policy’s pollution exclusion in Connecticut, the plaintiff insured withdrew the action.

      • Represented high net worth homeowners insurer in New York federal court in an action concerning claimed damage from Hurricane Sandy. Successfully moved to dismiss large portions of the insured’s complaint alleging fraud & misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation, bad faith, and a statutory violation of New York General Business Law § 349. Following dismissal of the extra-contractual causes of action, the case settled on very favorable terms.

      • Represented builders’ risk insurer in litigation concerning a $100 million claim arising from a significant fire to a nearly-completed skyscraper in New York City. The case presented novel questions concerning business interruption coverage and property valuation methods against the backdrop of the Great Recession.

      • Represented high net worth homeowners insurer in a number of New York federal lawsuits alleging claimed damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. The cases presented complex causation questions requiring a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the New York City wastewater treatment system, as well as novel questions concerning coverage for damage caused by sewer backup caused by overland flooding. Following extensive fact and expert discovery, we were able to successfully resolve these cases on very favorable terms.

      • Successfully convinced New York appellate court to uphold lower court finding for large property insurer in case involving the claimed theft of nearly $100,000 in jewelry, watches, and precious stones from an under-insured jewelry store. The court agreed with the insurer that the store could not recover the cost of the stolen merchandise as an extra expense when the store had declined to purchase jeweler’s block coverage.

      • Represented large commercial insurer in New York state court in case concerning extensive claimed roof damage to a wholesaler’s warehouse caused by Hurricane Sandy. The matter involved significant engineering and valuation issues, and settled on the eve of trial on very favorable terms.

      • Represented large property insurer in New York federal court in matter arising from nearly $500,000 in claimed storm damage to four separate municipal buildings in the Hudson Valley caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. In addition to presenting complex causation and valuation issues, the case was made more challenging by the fact that several of the damaged buildings were constructed in the 19th century. The matter settled following depositions of the insured’s representatives on very favorable terms.

      • Represented large commercial liability and builders’ risk insurer in Connecticut state court action containing allegations of bad faith and CUTPA/CUIPA violations arising from the release of a million gallons of water from a pump station at a nearly-complete residential apartment complex in southeastern Connecticut that caused in excess of $750,000 in damages. The case settled on favorable terms following extensive expert discovery.

      • Represented boiler & machinery insurer in Connecticut state court litigation involving damage to a municipality’s sewer pump station and surrounding property arising from a malfunctioning fuel pump. Following the deposition of the insured’s corporate representative, the case settled on very favorable terms.

      • Successfully obtained a defense verdict following a one-day bench trial in Connecticut state court on behalf of property insurer who was accused of wrongfully underpaying its insured for interior water damage allegedly caused by winter storm ice damming. The court rejected the insured’s argument that the insurer had failed to fully compensate him for his damage, and determined that no additional sums were owed.

      • National Flood Insurance Policy Litigation

      • Successfully moved to dismiss a federal New Jersey lawsuit brought against a Write-Your-Own flood insurance carrier in a case concerning a claimed underpayment of insurance proceeds for damage from Hurricane Sandy. The Court agree with our client that the insured had failed to timely commence suit under the policy’s suit limitation provision.

      • Successfully moved to dismiss a federal California lawsuit brought against a Write-Your-Own flood insurance carrier in a case concerning a claimed underpayment of insurance proceeds for storm damage to a multi-million dollar property overlooking the Pacific Ocean. In dismissing the case, the Court agreed with our client that, although the insured had filed litigation in state court within time provided by the policy’s suit limitation provision, the insured had failed to timely commence suit in federal court as required by the policy.

      • Represented a Write-Your-Own flood insurance carrier in South Carolina federal court in case arising out of 2015 floods. After successfully moving to dismiss the insured’s bad faith cause of action, and the insured’s request for punitive damages, consequential damages, and attorneys’ fees, the case settled on very favorable terms.

      • Represented Write-Your-Own flood insurance carriers in suits in New York and New Jersey arising out of claimed damage from Hurricane Sandy. Successfully shepherded dozen of suits through their respective jurisdictions’ Sandy-related case management orders to amicable resolutions.

      • Commercial Business Litigation

      • Represented commercial insurer in premium audit action against large regional real estate company that drastically understated their payroll data on their insurance application, leading to artificially low premiums for several years. After two days of putting on evidence and testimony at trial, the defendant decided to settle on terms very favorable to the client.

      • Successfully dismissed Connecticut state court action against directors of an energy services corporation based on plaintiff shareholders’ failure to bring suit as a derivative action in a matter arising from the $25 million sale of the corporation’s assets.

      • Represented founder and managing member of an investment fund in Connecticut federal court and the Second Circuit in litigation brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Following extensive discovery concerning complex financial transactions and investments, the case settled on very favorable terms.

      • Represented regional water pollution control authority in Connecticut state court action concerning the failure of a contractor to perform certain duties associated with the operations and maintenance of the wastewater system. The case settled on very favorable terms following extensive discovery.

      • Represented nutritional supplements manufacturer in California federal court in putative class action case involving allegedly false and misleading statements made in connection with the marketing and advertising of certain products. 

      • Represented energy services company in Connecticut federal court in patent infringement suit concerning the misappropriation of facility metering and electrical systems monitoring technology.

      • Represented technology services firm in connection with action brought by global design house concerning alleged complicity in the sale of trademark-infringing merchandise.

      • back to top
    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association

      Connecticut Bar Association
      Young Lawyers Section, Executive Committee, Co-chair of the Insurance Law Committee
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Robinson+Cole Pro Bono Service Award Recipient, 2013

      Listed as a Rising Star in Connecticut Super Lawyers® in the area of Insurance Coverage for 2015 and 2016 and in General Litigation for 2013 and 2014 (Super Lawyers is a registered trademark of Key Professional Media, Inc.)

      Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "First 100," 2013

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Civics First
      Board of Directors
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "The Faulty Workmanship Exclusion," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, co-authored with Gerald P. Dwyer Jr. (11/26/12)

      "Recent Developments Concerning the Faulty Work Exclusion in the Construction Defect Context," published in New Appleman on Insurance, co-authored with Gerald P. Dwyer Jr. (Fall 2013)

      "The Scope of Civil Authority Provisions in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy," published in For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Research Institute (April 2013)

      "Unfamiliar Territory: Preparing for Your First Out-of-State Appeal," published in Appellate Practice, the newsletter of the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation (Fall 2012)

      "Removal of Covered Class Actions Under SLUSA: The Failure of Plain Meaning and Legislative Intent as Interpretative Devices, and the Supreme Court's Decisive Solution," published in 1 Wm. & Mary Bus. L. Rev. 169 (2010)

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Fidelity and Crime Insurance in a Nutshell," at Connecticut Bar Association CLE Program, panel member (5/8/2017)

      "Developing & Recurring Issues In Property Insurance," co-presented with Daniel F. Sullivan and Raymond T. DeMeo, at in-house client presentation to 30 adjusters and claim managers (6/29/2016)

      "Property Coverage Developments Following Superstorm Sandy," co-presented with Gregory P. Varga, at New England Claims Executives Association Meeting (4/8/2014)

    • News

      R+C in the News

      • November 12, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Hosts Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program for Lawyers

      • September 1, 2015

        Three Hartford Office Lawyers Elected to Executive Committee of CBA's YLS

        • » more info
      • May 19, 2014

        Hartford Lawyers Coach Students to Present Simulated Trial

        • » more info
      • May 14, 2014

        Robinson+Cole's Appellate Group Wins Connecticut Law Tribune's Litigation Department of the Year Award

        • » more info
      • June 25, 2013

        J. Tyler Butts Joins Board of Civics First

        • » more info
      • May 21, 2013

        Insurance Litigation Lawyers Mentor Students at Law Day Festivities

        • » more info
      • April 19, 2013

        J. Tyler Butts Pens Hurricane Sandy Article for DRI’s For The Defense

        • » more info
      • January 23, 2013

        Connecticut Law Tribune quotes Robinson & Cole's Pro Bono Work

        • » more info
      • January 7, 2013

        J. Tyler Butts Writes Article on How Young Attorneys Can Prepare for Out-of-State Appeals

        • » more info
      • December 20, 2012

        Insurance Litigation Attorneys Write Article on How Courts are Interpreting Faulty Workmanship Exclusion for Connecticut Law Tribune

        • » more info

      R+C News Releases

      • October 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 19, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

        • » more info
        • View article
      • October 17, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers

        • » more info
        • View article
      • November 21, 2013

        Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence Names Six Robinson & Cole Lawyers Among its “First 100”

        • » more info
        • View article
      • November 7, 2013

        Connecticut Legal Services Honors Robinson & Cole for Pro Bono Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program

        • » more info
        • View article
      • May 7, 2012

        R&C Associates Spend Happy Hour with First Lady Cathy Malloy

        • » more info
        • View article
      • April 6, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Welcomes 10 New Attorneys

        • » more info
        • View article