Sean M. O'Brien

Sean M. O'Brien
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801 Grand Avenue
Suite 3700
Des Moines, IA 50309-8004
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Education & Background

Grinnell College (B.A., Economics, with honors, 1992)

  • Phi Beta Kappa

The University of Iowa College of Law (J.D., with distinction, 1995)

  • Van Oosterhout Memorial Moot Court Competition
  • Senior Note and Comment Editor, Journal of Corporation Law, 1994-1995


Sean has been with the Dickinson Bradshaw since 1996. Prior to joining the firm, he clerked for Justice David Harris of the Iowa Supreme Court. Sean has also served as an adjunct professor in Drake University's Undergraduate and MBA program lecturing on business law. He regularly speaks on various legal topics at programs sponsored by a number of organizations such as the Property Loss Research Bureau (PLRB), the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, the Iowa Insurance Division, the Mutual Insurance Association of Iowa, and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. A list of topics for insurance professionals or civic organizations is available upon request.

Honors & Awards


Leadership Positions

International Association of Arson Investigators, Iowa Chapter, Prosecution Section

  • Director, 2002-2011

Reported Cases and Representative Matters

  • Menard, Inc v. Farm Bureau Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., __ F.3d __ (8th Circuit 2024) (auto liability coverage dispute involving intrafamily immunity exclusion)
  • Becker v. Dallas Center Board of Adjustment, 955 N.W.2d 517 (Iowa App. 2023) (challenge to zoning exception)
  • Lissette Enterprises, Ltd v. Regent Ins. Co., 537 F.Supp.3d 1038 (S.D. Iowa 2021) (COVID business interruption claim)
  • Palmer Holdings and Investments, Inc v. Integrity Ins. Co., 505 F.Supp.3d 842 (S.D. Iowa 2021) (COVID business interruption claim)
  • Ziel v. Energy Panel Structures, Inc., 949 N.W.2d 653 (Iowa App. 2020) (subrogation action involving building collapse)
  • Telligen, Inc. v. Atlantic Specialty Ins. Co., 454 F.Supp.3d 843 (S.D. Iowa 2020) (E&O coverage dispute involving prior notice issues)
  • 33 Carpenters Const. Inc v. Cincinnati Ins. Co., 939 N.W.2d 82 (Iowa 2020) (challenge to assignment of insurance benefits to contractor)
  • Diercks v. City of Bettendorf, 929N.W.2d 273 (Iowa App. 2019) (public records dispute involving legal invoices)
  • City of West Liberty v. Employers Mut. Cas. Co., 922 N.W.2d 876 (Iowa 2019) (property insurance coverage dispute involving electric currents exclusion and application of the efficient proximate cause doctrine)
  • Capson Physicians Ins. Co. v. Yates, 2017 WL 6997897 (S.D. Iowa 2017) (professional liability coverage dispute involving late notice)
  • Walsh Const. Co. II, LLC v. Peerless Specialty Flooring, LLC, 2017 WL 7693380 (S.D. Iowa 2017) (construction defects dispute)
  • Michigan Millers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Asoyia, Inc., 793 F.3d 872 (8th Circuit 2015) (liability insurance coverage dispute involving late notice)
  • Continental Western Ins. Co. v. Continental Fire Sprinkler Co., 2013 WL 12092291 (S.D. Iowa 2013) (subrogation action involving water loss)
  • Flynn v. Sprint Communication Co., 2012 WL 13026882 (S.D. Iowa 2012)
  • Holt v. Quality Egg, LLC, 777 F.Supp.2d 1160 (N.D. Iowa 2011) (personal injury claims from salmonella outbreak)
  • Rossmanith v. Union Ins. Co. of Providence, 2001 WL 1451050 (Iowa App. 2001) (property insurance coverage dispute)
  • Cline v. Union County, 182 F.Supp.2d 791 (S.D. Iowa 2001) (Section 1983 action involving alleged illegal arrest)
  • Bradshaw, Fowler, Proctor & Fairgrave, PC v. Winke, 2001 WL 1043243 (Iowa App. 2001) (collections matter)
  • Bailey Travel Corp. v. General Cas. Co., 2001 WL 710131 (Iowa App. 2001) (property insurance coverage dispute involving flase pretense exclusion)
  • In Re Robinson, 246 B.R. 373 (S.D. Iowa 1999) (workers compensation exemption claim)
  • Butner v. Beyer, 593 N.W.2d 133 (Iowa 1999) (automatic stay dispute)

Memberships & Activities

State Bar Admissions

Iowa, 1995

Federal Court Admissions

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa
U.S. Court of Appeals, 8th Circuit
U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Memberships

American Bar Association
Defense Research Institute
Iowa Defense Counsel Association
Iowa State Bar Association
Polk County Bar Association

Other Memberships

International Association of Arson Investigators, Inc.
National Association of Subrogation Professionals