John doesn’t hesitate when asked about the greatest influence on his law career – Bibb Allen. As a new lawyer with no experience in coverage matters, Bibb became John’s go-to source for foundational elements of Alabama insurance coverage law and theory. In the last five years of his practice, Bibb asked John to prepare the supplements to his book. Bibb’s influence led John to prepare the second edition and to rename it in Bibb’s honor after his death. John is proud to carry on Bibb’s legacy and aspires to be a primary reference tool for new and experienced lawyers. “Bibb cared about his profession and respected his colleagues and adversaries. Continuing to author the book is a reminder of Bibb’s influence and inspiration.”
John represents Christian & Small’s insurance coverage clients in contract and tort litigation, including defending them against claims of bad faith, breach of contract, fraud and extra-contractual damages, as well as disputes between carriers. John also represents insureds sued under Alabama’s Dram Shop statutes and advising insurers regarding coverage for liquor liability claims under CGL and liquor liability policies.
- 2010 United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment in favor of property insurer on insured’s contract and bad faith claims following denial of benefits for property damage unrelated to the hurricane upon which the insured based his claim. The court found the evidence submitted by the insured that related the property damage to the hurricane unpersuasive, and entered judgment in favor of carrier.
- 2011 United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment for liquor liability carrier following suit against its insured for assault. The court found the manuscript assault and battery exclusion unambiguous, and applied the exclusion to claims for failure to protect from or prevent assault, as well as intended or unintended assault and battery.
- 2010 United States District for the Northern District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment for aircraft insurer on insured aircraft owner’s contract and bad faith claims. The insured failed to schedule a newly acquired aircraft and submitted a claim following a crash landing on a test flight. The court found that the insured acquired ownership of the aircraft nearly one year prior to the accident, even though the insured termed the sales contract a “conditional agreement.” Notwithstanding the evidence presented by the insured, the court found all the conditions precedent to the sale to have been met, and ruled that the insurer was not liable for the more than $700,000 claimed damages to the aircraft.
- 2010 United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment for commercial auto insurer on insured’s bad faith claim arising out of a dispute as to whether or not the stacked underinsured motorist limits of the policy had been exhausted.
- 2011 United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment for commercial property insurer following re-submission of a hurricane claim more than four years after the storm event. The insured asserted claims for bad faith and breach of contract when the carrier would not agree to appraisal until supporting documentation was submitted. The court found the documentation submitted by the insured to be false, and held that insurers are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to investigate a claim before agreeing to the appraisal process, even where the claim has been previously submitted. The insured sought in excess of $200,000.
- 2011 United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama - Obtained summary judgment for commercial liability insurer on insured’s claim for defense and indemnity arising out of a construction defect suit. The court found that the claims asserted in the complaint did not constitute an occurrence. Assuming, however, that the claims constituted an occurrence, the court found the damages sought by the plaintiff were excluded by the your work exclusion (subcontractor exception removed by endorsement), punitive damages exclusion, and definition of bodily injury limiting coverage for mental anguish and emotional distress to circumstances with attendant physical injury. The homeowners sought more than $1,000,000.
- 2010 Circuit Court of Talladega County, Alabama - Obtained summary judgment in favor of general liability insurer on insured’s bad faith claim where defense was denied following suit against the insured for conversion. The insured recycling business and was accused of destroying / scrapping vehicles not owned by the sellers.
- 2011 United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama - Edgar Elliott, John Johnson, and Steven Nichols obtained Summary Judgment for an insurance company facing a breach of contract and bad faith suit alleging in excess of $6 Million. Cat 5 v. National Casualty Co., CV09-00633-CG-B (S.D. Ala., Oct. 5, 2011). Cat 5 entered into a consent judgment for $6 million in an underlying State Court action, then sued National Casualty claiming the insurer committed bad faith by failing to provide a defense and indemnity to Cat 5 in the State Court case. Cat 5 claimed as damages the $6 million consent judgment, over $100,000 in attorney’s fees, and punitive damages. Arguing both Georgia contract law and Alabama bad faith law, Edgar Elliott, John Johnson, and Steven Nichols successfully obtained summary judgment for National Casualty as to all claims.
- Bedell v. Quality Casualty Insurance Company, 958 So.2d 344 (Ala. 2006)
Professional and Community Involvement
- Birmingham Bar Association: Member; 2009 Graduate, Future Leaders Forum; Member, Young Lawyers Section
- Alabama State Bar: Member; Participant, 2008 Pilot Mentoring Program
- American Bar Association (ABA): Member
- Defense Research Institute (DRI): Member
- Alabama Defense Lawyers Association (ADLA): Member
- 2009 Graduate, Bibb Allen Memorial Trial Academy
- Bar Association Bulletin, Board of Editors Member, 2005-2006
- National Business Institute: Faculty, 2007-2008
Awards and recognition
- Recognized as Alabama Rising Star 2011-2013 by Alabama Super Lawyers ®, Insurance Coverage
- AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell
publications and presentations
- John W Johnson II & Richard Smith, Allen’s Alabama Liability Insurance Handbook (2d ed. 2009).
- Liquor Liability Litigation in Alabama, Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin (Winter 2005).
- Insurers’ Dilemma: Defend or Not, Who Controls the Defense, Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin (Summer 2004).