Dara A. DeCourcy
ZK’s Appellate Practice and Insurance Coverage department, chair.
Brief and argue appeals; counsel clients on appellate remedies and prospects for success.
Prepare coverage opinions; represent insurance companies in declaratory judgment actions and insurance contract and bad faith litigation, with coverage including auto, general liability, professional liability, D&O, environmental.
Counsel insurers on best practices in claims handling and regulatory compliance.
General commercial and tort litigation, representing companies and individuals in suits involving contract, business tort, construction related claims, personal injury, premises liability, motor vehicle and transportation related claims.
Undergraduate:Indiana University of Pennsylvania, B.A., English literature, minor history, 1975
Law School:Duquesne University School of Law, LLB, 1979
- Appellate Moot Court Board member
- Instructor, Legal Research and Writing
- West Virginia
- United States District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Pennsylvania
- United States District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia
- United States Courts of Appeals for the Third and Fourth Circuits
- United States Supreme Court
- Defense Research Institute
- Author and Associate Editor, DRI, Writing a Reservation of Rights: A North American Compendium (2013)
- Author and Regional Editor, DRI, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage: A State-by-State Compendium (2007)
- Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia (member, Insurance Law Committee)
- Westmoreland County Bar Association (Past Chair, Nominating Committee; member, Planning Committees)
- Westmoreland Academy of Trial Lawyers, Board Member 2017 – Present
- Ned J. Nakles Inn of Court, Master
- Third Circuit Bar Association
- Pennsylvania Bar Association (Co-Vice Chair, Appellate Advocacy Committee)
- Allegheny County Bar Association
- 2009-2010; 2013-2018 Pennsylvania Super Lawyer (Insurance Coverage)
- 2015-2018 Best Lawyers in America (Insurance Law, Insurance Litigation)
- Pennsylvania common pleas and all appellate courts; Pennsylvania federal district courts and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- West Virginia circuit courts and West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals; West Virginia Insurance Commission; United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
1979-1989, Office of the District Attorney of Allegheny County
General trial work, followed by nine years with the Appellate Division. Briefed and argued appeals in criminal cases before the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts, arguing over one hundred appeals; advised trial counsel on criminal procedure and evidentiary issues. Instructor in criminal procedure and constitutional law, Allegheny County Police Academy.
1983-1990 Adjunct professor, Duquesne University School of Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure.
- Carlson v. Bubash, 432 Pa.Super. 514, 639 A.2d 458 (1994). Held, Pennsylvania’s statute barring recovery of benefits paid or payable in an action arising out of the use of a motor vehicle barred plaintiff from introducing medical bills and expenses for purpose of showing the extent of pain and suffering plaintiff claimed.
- Stillwell v. The City of Wheeling, 210 W. Va. 599; 558 S.E.2d 598 (2001). Partner George Stewart and co-counsel secured a verdict in favor of client general contractor in this suit arising from the electrocution of a teenaged girl who was swimming in the Ohio River near Wheeling’s public amphitheater. The Ohio County Circuit Court, however, granted plaintiffs’ motion for new trial. With co-counsel, successfully appealed order, and Supreme Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the jury’s verdict.
- Mishoe v. Erie Insurance Company, 573 Pa. 267, 824 A.2d 1153 (2003). Held, there is no right to jury trial under Pennsylvania’s bad faith statute.
- Moody v. Allegheny Valley Land Trust, 601 Pa. 655, 976 A.2d 484 (2009). Representing a rails to trails nonprofit organization with co-counsel; the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that where the requirements of the National Trails System Act are met, a railroad right-of-way is “railbanked” regardless of whether the rail operator agrees to resuscitate service, and the railway easement was not abandoned to property owners.
- Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas dismissed suit for defamation with prejudice on Defendants’ preliminary objections, arising from defendant child care worker’s report to CYF of incident worker observed in the home. Held, Defendants were immune from liability, as statutorily mandated reporters.