Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Michael W. Thrall

Michael Thrall is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department and practices in the area of commercial litigation; life, health, and disability insurance litigation; ERISA litigation; railroad litigation; and complex tort defense.

Michael is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers in the categories of Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, and ERISA Litigation. He is a Fellow in the Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers and a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the International Association of Defense Counsel, and the National Association of Railroad Trial Attorneys. Michael is a past President of ABOTA's Iowa Chapter, a past President of the Iowa Defense Counsel Association, and is a former DRI State Representative.

Michael serves on the Defense Research Institute’s Life, Health, and Disability Committee and is a member of DRI’s Data Management and Security Committee and DRI's Commercial Litigation Committee. 


Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent

Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2015-present


 The Best Lawyers in America®: Litigation - ERISA, 2012-2020; Bet-the-Company Litigation, 2010-2020; and Commercial Litigation, 2005-2020

Best Lawyers Award Badge

Chambers USA, 2008-2019


Great Plains Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2009-2019

Benchmark Litigation - Litigation Star, Iowa, 2013-2015

Fellow, Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers

Associate, American Board of Trial Advocates

Master, C. Edwin Moore Inn of Court

Fellow, Iowa State Bar Foundation

Fellow, Foundation of ABOTA

Fellow, American Bar Foundation

DRI Exceptional Performance Citation, 2005-2006

Chairman, Iowa Law School Moot Court Board, 1979-1980

Professional and Community Affiliations

American Bar Association

Iowa State Bar Association
Iowa Jury Instructions Committee, 1989-2001
E-Commerce Section Council, 2000-2003
Federal Practice Committee, 1988

Polk County Bar Association

Defense Research Institute
State Representative, 2007-2010
Life, Health, and Disability Committee, 2000-present
Data Management and Security Committee, 2006-present
Commercial Litigation Committee, 2008-present

International Association of Defense Counsel

Iowa Defense Counsel Association
President, 2005-2006
Director, 1996-2010
Legislative Committee, 1995-2010; Chair, 2003-2005
Amicus Committee Chair, 1999-2002
Rules Committee Chair, 1999-2002
E-Discovery Committee, 2007-2010

American Board of Trial Advocates
President, Iowa Chapter, 2009-2010

National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel

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Iowa State University (B.S., 1977)

University of Iowa (J.D., with high distinction, 1980)

Bar Admissions

Iowa, 1980

Admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Iowa, the Western District of Wisconsin, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court of Claims, and the United States Supreme Court. Admitted pro hac vice in numerous state and federal courts across the United States.

Professional Experience

Law Clerk, Hon. Harold D. Vietor, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa, 1980-1982

Significant Cases

Optimal Interiors, LLC v. HON Co., 774 F.Supp.2d 993 (S.D. Iowa 2011). Successfully defended HON Co. in enforcing a contractual limitation of liability clause to preclude multi-million dollar lost profits claim.

Great Plains Real Estate Dev. Corp. v. Union Cent. Life Ins. Co., 536 F.3d 939 (8th Cir. 2008). Successfully represented Union Central Life and related defendants in challenge to prepayment premium in commercial loan documentation. In a case of first impression in Iowa, the Court upheld the enforceability of a prepayment premium where the prepayment was voluntary.

City of Burlington v. Burlington N. Santa Fe Corp., No. 3:04-cv-80040 (S.D.Iowa). Successfully defended BNSF Railway Company and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation in a complex contract and real estate dispute over riverfront property in the City of Burlington, which the City contended was governed by agreements entered into in the 1800s.

Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp. v. Polk County, No. CV5045 (Iowa Dist. Ct.). Represented General Motors Acceptance Corporation in a constitutional Commerce Clause and Equal Protection challenge to Iowa’s Loan Agencies Tax. The District Court held in favor of GMAC, striking down the Loan Agencies Tax as unconstitutional and ordering the defendants to refund over $1,600,000 in taxes.

Bublitz v. E.I. duPont de Nemours & Co., No. 4-00-cv-90247 (S.D.Iowa). Co-counsel for plaintiffs in ERISA class action seeking to enforce Change in Control Agreement for management employees upon sale of Pioneer to duPont. The class was certified and the action ultimately was resolved shortly before trial.

Chem. Bank v. Commc'ns Data Servs., Inc., 765 F. Supp. 1401 (S.D.Iowa 1991); In re Kachina Publ'ns, Inc., 171 B.R. 671 (Bkrtcy. D. Ariz. 1994). Represented Communications Data Services, Inc. in establishing an artisan's lien protecting its work in improving and maintaining computer databases.

Hearing counsel for Allied Insurance Company, Amerus Insurance Company, American Republic Insurance Company, CUNA Mutual Insurance Society, and Petroleum Marketers Mutual Insurance Company in contested administrative hearings before the Iowa Insurance Division involving mutual insurance holding company structure or related issues.

Sieg Co. v. Kelly, 512 N.W. 2d 275 (Iowa 1994). Appraisal litigation following corporate mergers determining the value of a dissenting shareholder’s stock.

Represented companies in numerous commercial disputes including breach of contract, UCC, real estate litigation, warranty, and business torts.

Represented numerous clients in life, health, and disability insurance cases, including: Howard v. Coventry Health Care of Iowa, Inc., 293 F.3d 442 (8th Cir. 2002), the first case to find Iowa first party bad faith claim preempted by ERISA.

Iowa outside counsel for BNSF Railway Company representing the BNSF in FELA, crossing accident, condemnation, and real estate litigation and administrative proceedings.

Speeches and Publications

Michael is a frequent speaker on trial related topics.

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