Contact Information


801 Grand Avenue, 33rd Floor

Des Moines, Iowa 50309

D: +1 515 447 4701
F: +1 515 248 9010


University of Iowa College of Law
J.D., with distinction (1979)
University of Missouri
B.J. (1976)

Bar Admissions


Court Admissions

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa U.S. Supreme Court

Michael A. Giudicessi


Michael Giudicessi counsels businesses and represents them in court on employment and commercial issues. He practices as a member of the Faegre Baker Daniels labor and employment group and serves as senior partner of the five-lawyer Des Moines employment litigation team.

Michael's case experience includes defending against discrimination, wrongful termination, contract and other employment claims. He also counsels executives, directors and officers on corporate, transactional and employer compliance issues.

Additionally, for 35 years, Michael has handled a wide range of content issues for communications and media clients. His experience extends to pre-publication review and counseling, libel and privacy defense, and access litigation.

Prior to joining the firm, Michael held legal positions at several Iowa-based corporations, including serving as general counsel of Palmer Communications.

Representative Employment and Commercial Cases

  • Osthus v. Ingredion, Inc., No. 16-CV-38-LRR, 2016 WL 4098541 (N.D. Iowa July 28, 2016). NLRB motion for Section 10(j) injunction against employer during pendency of unfair labor charge proceedings denied after evidentiary hearing.
  • Minnihan v. Mediacom Communications Corp., 779 F.3d 803 (8th Cir. 2015). Summary judgment for employer in ADA case asserting discrimination and failure to engage in interactive accommodation process affirmed on appeal.
  • Zanders v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 55 F. Supp. 3d 1163 (S.D. Iowa 2014). Employer’s motion to dismiss granted in part in case alleging FLSA collective action and Iowa wage payment class action claims; ruling holds federal law preempted recovery under Iowa wage payment act and, even if it did not, state law would not permit recovery against supervisory employees.
  • Gray v. Harding and Haynes, 807 N.W.2d 296, WL 4578481 (Iowa Ct. App. 2011). Summary judgment for two Wells Fargo executives sued personally for tortious interference and fraudulent misrepresentation by discharged employee affirmed on appeal.
  • Yon v. Principal Life Ins. Co., 605 F.3d 505 (8th Cir. 2010). Summary judgment for employer affirmed on appeal in case asserting FLSA, FMLA and state law claims.
  • American Arbitration Association employment proceeding, September 2010. Arbitrator entered a reasoned decision providing a complete defense award for financial services client in a FMLA case submitted after a four-day evidentiary trial. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa thereafter confirmed the award.
  • Leichliter v. The Des Moines Register, 617 F. Supp. 2d 818 (S.D. Iowa 2009). Secured summary judgment for defendant employer in age case asserting federal and state law claims for discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
  • Manning v. Wells Fargo Financial, 756 N.W.2d 480, 2008 WL 290257 (Iowa Ct. App. 2008). Obtained summary judgment for defendant employer in age discrimination case by longtime executive. Affirmed on reconsideration by the Iowa Court of Appeals.
  • Union County, Iowa v. Piper Jaffray & Co., 525 F.3d 643 (8th Cir. 2008). Client Piper Jaffray's motion to compel based on plaintiff's waiver of attorney-client privilege sustained.
  • Ceurvorst v. Principal Life Ins. Co., 728 N.W.2d 852 (Iowa Ct. App. 2007). Summary judgment granted to defendant employer in contract and promissory estoppel case by employee claiming he was promised he would be an officer of the company and affirmed upon appeal.
  • Leach v. Mediacom, 373 F.3d 895 (8th Cir. 2004) affirming 240 F.Supp.2d 994. Case by public access programmer seeking to compel client cable franchisee to carry programming dismissed after preliminary injunction hearing. Affirmed on appeal to the 8th Circuit.
  • Colasante v. Wells Fargo Corp., 81 Fed. Appx. 611, 2003 WL 22734595 (8th Cir. No. 03-1315, filed October 24, 2003), affirming 211 F.R.D. 555 (S.D. Iowa 2002). National origin discrimination case dismissed for failure to comply with federal rules regarding timing and service of proceeding. Affirmed by the 8th Circuit.
  • Borneman v. Principal Life Insurance Co., 291 F. Supp. 2d 935 (S.D. Iowa 2003). Favorable decision for client in case that upheld employer's right to regulate market-timing trading activity of employee.
  • Bublitz v. E.I. Dupont De Nemours & Co., 224 F. Supp. 2d 1234 (S.D. Iowa 2002). One of a series of published opinions in a class action employee lawsuit against client involving provisions of a change in control severance plan.
  • Rieger v. Jacque, 584 N.W.2d 247 (Iowa 1998). Insurance and financial services company client granted summary judgment in a professional malpractice case that involved issues of proximate and intervening cause in connection with estate planning and tax advice. Affirmed on appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Cases Interpreting First Amendment Rights

Reported cases involving libel or invasion of privacy claims against media clients:

  • Bierman v. Weier and Author Solutions, Inc., 826 N.W.2d 436 (Iowa 2013)
  • Stites v. Ogden Newspapers, 2002 WL 663621 (Iowa Ct. App. 2002)
  • Caveman Adventures UN, Ltd. v. Press-Citizen Co., Inc., 633 N.W.2d 757 (Iowa 2001)
  • Johnson v. Nickerson and Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., 542 N.W.2d 506 (Iowa 1996)
  • Jones v. Palmer Communications, Inc., 440 N.W.2d 884 (Iowa 1989)
  • Albertson v. Newton Daily News, 1992 WL 309879, 20 Med. L. Rpt. 1578 (S.D. Iowa 1992)

Published decisions applying reporters' privilege for client journalists:

  • Waterloo Courier v. Hawkeye Comm. College, 646 N.W.2d 97 (Iowa 2002)
  • Bell v. City of Des Moines (WHO-TV, Appellant), 412 N.W.2d 585 (Iowa 1987)
  • Lamberto v. Bown, 326 N.W.2d 305 (Iowa 1982)
  • Stanfield v. Polk County, 18 Media L. Rptr. 1262 (Iowa Dist. Ct. 1990)

Published cases recognizing press rights to attend court proceedings and/or for access to court records:

  • DPS v. Iowa District Court for Polk Co., 801 N.W. 2d 544 (Iowa 2011) (attorneys for amicus Iowa Freedom of Information Council)
  • State v. Knox, 464 N.W.2d 445 (Iowa 1990) (attorneys for amicus curiae)
  • Iowa Freedom of Information Council v. Wifvat, 328 N.W.2d 920 (Iowa 1983)
  • In re Iowa Freedom of Information Council, 724 F.2d 658 (8th Cir. 1983)

Reported decisions involving freedom of information statutes and access rights:

  • Doe v. University of Iowa (The Associated Press, Intervenor-Appellee), 828 N.W.2d 326 (Iowa Ct. App. 2013)
  • Hall v. Broadlawns Medical Center (Des Moines Register, Appellant), 811 N.W.2d 478 (Iowa 2012)
  • Des Moines Register & Tribune Co. v. Dwyer, 542 N.W.2d 491 (Iowa 1996)
  • Des Moines Independent Community School District v. Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., 487 N.W.2d 666 (Iowa 1992)
  • Lambert v. Polk County, Iowa, 723 F. Supp. 128 (S.D. Iowa 1989)
  • Des Moines Register & Tribune Co. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, FBI, 563 F. Supp. 82 (D.D.C. 1983)
  • Craigmont Care v. Dept. of Social Services, 325 N.W.2d 918 (Iowa Ct. App. 1982)

Served as lead trial counsel:

  • Brown v. KCCI-TV (Polk Co. Iowa Dist. Ct. No. CL84214), December 2001 libel case. Jury returned a verdict for client after a seven-day trial.


  • Distinguished Service Award — Iowa Newspaper Association, 2015
  • The Best Lawyers in America — First Amendment Law/Defense, 1995-2017
  • Great Plains/Iowa Super Lawyers — Employment Litigation Defense, First Amendment/Media/Advertising, 2007, 2009, 2011-17 (Top 10 Iowa Lawyers, 2014-15)
  • Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business — Labor & Employment, 2012-17

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
  • Federal Communications Bar Association
  • Iowa State Bar Association

Civic Activities

  • Science Center of Iowa — Board Member, 2010-present (Chair, 2013-15)
  • Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference Planning Committee — Member, 2016
  • Iowa Supreme Court Working Group on the Restyling of the Rules of Evidence — Member, 2015
  • Southern District of Iowa — Magistrate Merit Selection Panel (Chair), 2014
  • Iowa Freedom of Information Council — Counsel and a Past President
  • Iowa Supreme Court — Committee to Study Lawyer Advertising Rules, 2011-12


  • Iowa Court of Appeals, Hon. Leo E. Oxberger, 1979-80

Published Articles

  • Federal Shield Law for Journalists: A Matter of Good Housekeeping
    Communications Lawyer Vol. 23, No. 2, 2005
  • Independent State Grounds for Freedom of Speech and of the Press: Article I Section 7 of the Iowa Constitution
    38 Drake Law Review 9, 1988
  • Media Law Resource Center
    Co-author of Iowa law outlines published annually on employment defamation law, employment privacy law, media defamation law and media privacy law


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