David L. Charles

David Charles is a Shareholder in the Litigation Department.  His practice focuses on civil jury trial work, both plaintiff and defense, with types of cases including lender liability claims, general commercial disputes of all types, personal injury, product liability, employment, trade secrets, Lanham Act, medical and other professional malpractice, various types of estate disputes, real estate litigation and condemnation matters.  David has also had experience in cases involving the oil and gas industry and in appellate work of all types.

David graduated with High Distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1974 after receiving a political science degree in 1972, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa.  He was Board Certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in 1986 and held that status until 2020 when he elected not to renew his membership in the organization.  After practicing law in Iowa for 30 years, he passed the Montana Bar in 2003, joined the Crowley Fleck law firm in Billings in March of 2005 and maintained a practice in both Montana and Iowa.  In January, 2019, he opened his own office in Billings which he maintained until he rejoined the Belin McCormick firm in 2020.  He continues to practice in both states.

He is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and was one of 11 Montana lawyers listed by the Mountain States Super Lawyers in the top 100 attorneys in the Mountain States Region in 2016.  He has been named in the Best Lawyers in America in multiple litigation categories from 2003 through 2023 and included in Mountain States Super Lawyers from 2010 until 2021.

Honors and Accomplishments

Best Lawyers in America for Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants, and Personal Injury Litigation-Plaintiffs (2003-2023)

Mountain States Super Lawyers for Business Litigation (2010-2020)

Named as one of the top 100 lawyers in the Mountain States Region by Mountain States Super Lawyers in 2016

AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell

Order of the Coif

Board Certified by National Board of Trial Advocacy (1986-2020)

Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers 

Community and Professional Activities


Iowa State Bar Association

State Bar of Montana

American Bar Association-Litigation Section

National Board of Trial Advocacy (1986-2020)

American Association for Justice

Iowa Defense Counsel

Iowa Academy of Trial Lawyers

Litigation Counsel of America

Iowa Association for Justice

Polk County Bar Association

Montana Defense Counsel Association

Drake University Adjunct Professor, Law – Pre-Trial Advocacy, Fall 2022


Iowa Jobs Commission and Iowa State Historical Board (1978-1986)

Children's Habilitation Center in Des Moines, Board of Directors (1986-1994)

Polk County Bar Association

Iowa Bar Association Board of Governors (1986-1995)

Yellowstone County Bar Treasurer (2004)

Cub Scouts Asst. Pack Leader, Committeeman and Treasurer-Pack 12 (2008-2013)

Boy Scout Troop Leader Troop 7 multiple positions (2015-2017)

Extensive political experience 1975-1994, including managing a campaign for statewide office

    Representative Work

    Appellate Cases

    Manatt v. Manatt (Delaware Co. Case No. LACV008455). Iowa Court of Appeals (Case No. 21-0319), reversed and remanded for trial (Manatt v. Manatt, No. 21-0319, 978 N.W.2d 251, 4/27/22)

    William Van Horn v. R.H. Van Horn Farms, Inc., et al., 919 N.W.2d 768 (Iowa Ct. App. 2018)

    Lonesome Dove Petroleum, Inc. v. Holt, 889 F.3d 510 (2018) 

    Baur v. Baur Farms, Inc., Iowa Court of Appeals, July 27, 2016, No. 14-1412 (unpublished disposition)

    Baur v. Baur Farms, Inc., Iowa Supreme Court, 832 N.W.2d 663 (Iowa 2013)

    Feller v. First Interstate Bancsystem, Inc., 369 Mont. 444 (Mont. 2013)

    Flagstone Development, LLC v. Joyner, 545 Fed. Appx. 602 (Mont. 2013)

    Three Minnows, LLC v. Cream, LLC, 832 N.W.2d 385 (Iowa 2013)

    In re Estate of Nelson, Iowa Court of Appeals, 814 N.W.2d 623 (2012)

    In re Estate of Nelson, Iowa Court of Appeals, 780 N.W.2d 248 (2010)

    Baur v. Baur Farms, Inc., Iowa Court of Appeals, 780 N.W.2d 249 (2010)

    Silver Hill Financial Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. Mosser, 354 Mont. 393 (Mont. 2009)

    In re Estate of Anderson-Feeley, 340 Mont. 352 (Mont. 2007)

    Caylor-Campbell Farm Trust ex rel. Campbell v. Howe, 720 N.W.2d 195 (Iowa 2006)

    Lincoln National Life Insurance Co v. Payne., 374 F.3d 672 (Eighth Cir. 2004)

    Harvey v. Care Initiatives, Inc., 634 N.W.2d 681 (Iowa 2001)

    EFCO Corp. v. Alumna Sys. USA, 268 F.3d 601 (8th Cir. 2001)

    EFCO Corp. v. Norman Highway Constructors, Inc., 606 N.W.2d 297 (Iowa 2000)

    EFCO Corp. v. Symons Corp., 219 F.3d 734 (8th Cir. 2000)

    Robbins v. Heritage Acres, 587 N.W.2d 262 (Iowa 1998)

    Matter of the Estate of Todd, 585 N.W.2d 273 (Iowa 1998)

    Nelson v. Agro Globe Engineering, Inc., 578 N.W.2d 659 (Iowa 1998)

    Cox v. Dubuque Bank & Trust Co., 163 F.3d 492 (8th Cir. 1998)

    Kempeke v. Monsanto Co, 132 F.3d 442 (8th Cir 1998)

    State ex rel. Miller v. Grodzinsky, 571 N.W.2d 1 (Iowa 1997)

    Waddell v. Forney, 108 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 1997)

    Transform, Ltd. v. Assessor of Polk County, Iowa, 543 N.W.2d 614 (Iowa 1996)

    Wilson v. Darr, 553 N.W.2d 579 (Iowa 1996)

    United States of America v. Articles of Drug for Veterinary Use, 50 F.3d 497 (8th Cir. 1995)

    Haupt v. Miller, 514 N.W.2d 905 (Iowa 1994)

    Engstrand v. West Des Moines State Bank, 516 N.W.2d 797 (Iowa 1994)

    In re Marriage of Hankenson, 503 N.W.2d 431 (Iowa 1993)

    Citizens State Bank of Des Moines v. Hansen, 449 N.W.2d 388 (Iowa 1989)

    Federal Deposit Ins. Corp. v. First Interstate Bank of Des Moines, N.A., 885 F.2d 423, 58 U.S. L.W. 2260, 28 Fed.R.Evid.Serv. 1188 (8th Cir. 1989)

    Kaiser Agr. Chemicals, a Div. of Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. v. Ottumwa Production Credit Ass’n., 428 N.W.2d 681 (Iowa 1988)

    Sioux County State Bank v. Veenstra, 372 N.W.2d 309 (Iowa 1985)

    First Nat. Bank of Creston v. Creston Implement Co., 340 N.W.2d 777 (Iowa 1983)

    Bankers Trust Co. v. Woltz, 326 N.W.2d 274 (Iowa 1982)

    Xerox Corp. v. Board of Review of City of Cedar Rapids, 298 N.W.2d 416 (Iowa 1980)

    Chicago and North Western Transp. Co. v. Hurst Excavating, Inc, 498 F.Supp 1 (D.C. Iowa 1978)

    Representative Matters

    • Representative cases David has tried since 2005 include those listed below. (He has tried other cases since 2005 involving lender liability - breach of contract -nuisance and various other tort claims.)
    • 2005 Flying J. Inc. et al. Oil field accident -wrongful death claim against client. Tried to a jury in Montana Federal Court. Defense verdict August 2005.
    • 2006 C & N Development. Breach of contract -fraud and related claims asserted by client. Tried to a Polk County Iowa jury. Verdict for client $305K.

    • 2006 Estate of Louise Nelson. Undue influence claim prosecuted for client. Tried to Guthrie County Iowa District Court October 2006. Verdict in client’s favor. All disputed transactions set aside by the Court.

    • 2008 EFCO Corp. individually and on behalf of others similarly situated Class Action initiated on behalf of client seeking recovery as a result of a demutualization. Tried to a jury in Polk County Iowa District Court. Verdict for client Class on 4/9/08 - $42M.

    • 2008 Hadachek - James as Personal Rep. of the Estate of MJA. Undue influence claim prosecuted for client. Tried to a jury in Montana Federal Court. Jury verdict for the client on 5/2/08 $3.9M in compensatory damages and $50k in punitive damages.

    • 2009 EFCO Corp - Charles Watrous et al. Injured employee claimed gross negligence by client supervisors. Tried to a jury in Polk County Iowa District Court. Verdict for the defense.

    • 2011 Robert F. Baur. Plaintiff alleged fraud by client and claimed oppression as a minority shareholder in a closely held farm corporation controlled by client. Case tried to the Madison County District Court in March 2011. Decision in client’s favor. Case reversed by Iowa Supreme Court and was sent back for retrial.

    • 2011 First Interstate Bank Client sued with plaintiff making various lender liability claims. Case tried to a jury in Yellowstone County Montana District Court in February 2011. Defense verdict.

    • 2011 First Interstate Bank. Claim of conversion against client as a result of its decision to offset $2.6M in depositor’s account to apply to an outstanding debt he guaranteed. Tried to a jury in Yellowstone County Montana. Jury returned a verdict in April 2011 finding wrongful offset but awarded depositor only the $2.6M offset and denying plaintiff punitive damages. Client ultimately obtained summary judgment against the depositor for the amount of the unpaid debt.

    • 2011 Yellowstone Bank. Lender liability claim against client. Tried to a jury in Gallatin County Montana District Court in June 2011. Defense verdict.

    • 2011 Stuart A. Davis. Product liability claim prosecuted for client against manufacturer of a pain pump. Tried to a jury in U.S. District Court for Montana in August 2011. Jury returned verdict on 8/16/11 finding the product defective but finding that state of the art was a defense. Case subsequently settled for six figures.

    • 2012 CREAM LLC. Plaintiff claimed breach of contract and fiduciary duty resulting from a limited liability company transaction. Trial to a jury in Polk County Iowa District Court in January 2012. Directed verdict in client’s favor.

    • 2013 West Bank. Client sued by depositor alleging various claims arising from the payment of checks drawn on his account. Tried to a jury in Polk County Iowa District Court. Directed verdict entered in client’s favor at the close of plaintiff’s case.

    • 2014 Robert F. Baur. Retrial of plaintiff’s oppression claim resurrected by the Iowa Supreme Court. Case tried to the Madison County Iowa District Court in March 2014. Client prevailed in trial court again. Case affirmed on appeal by the Iowa Court of Appeals on 7/27/16.

    • 2016 John Holt/Holt Oil Properties Inc. Plaintiff sued alleging client was liable to him for more than $27 million as a result of a joint venture lease play in the Bakken. Tried to a jury in U.S. District Court sitting in Fargo ND in April 2016. Defense verdict.

    • 2017 William Van Horn et al v RH Can Horn Farms et al.  Plaintiff sued client alleging oppression and seeking dissolution of closely held farm corporation. Tried to Court in Carroll County, Iowa.  Defense Verdict. Affirmed on Appeal.

    • 2021 In re Anthony Manatt v. Bradford Manatt. Client filed suit to enforce a Mandatory Buy Sell Agreement. Tried to a jury in Delaware County, Iowa. Directed verdict for Defense. Appealed to Iowa Supreme Court.

    • 2021 In re Matter of the Estate of Anna Irlene Johnson (Dallas County Case No. ESPR024305). Represented client in suit brought to challenge the competency of the Testator to execute a Last Will and Testament given the prior diagnosis of dementia. Tried to the Dallas County, Iowa District Court, which ruled for Defense. Case on Appeal.

    • 2022 In re Estate of John William Flanagan. Siblings William Flanagan and Tayna Flanagan filed a Verified Petition asserting that Rick Flanagan had financially abused their father, that three leases encumbering the ranch property should be set aside and that Rick should be deemed to have forfeited the share of the estate he otherwise would have inherited. The case was tried to a jury in Judith Basin County, Montana. Jury verdict for the Plaintiffs finding financial abuse had occurred. Motions pending relating to leases and other aspects of the estate. Jury verdict to be appealed. Court ordered mediation on all issues pending at this writing.