Dara A. DeCourcy
Loyalty may be a rare commodity now, but I have been blessed to have worked for Zimmer Kunz for more than thirty years and with the support of my colleagues here I have maintained business relationships with many of the same clients over those years. – Dara DeCourcy
As Practice Group leader for the firm’s Appellate Practice/Insurance Coverage department, Dara DeCourcy focused on insuring that clients’ interests were well represented through the final stages of litigation. She has practiced before Pennsylvania’s appellate courts for more than forty years, appearing before those courts in hundreds of cases, and she has appeared before the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In handling clients’ concerns in insurance coverage, she has represented insurers and insureds in auto, personal injury, commercial general liability, professional liability, construction, D&O and environmental coverage disputes, advising concerning parties’ rights and liabilities under insurance contracts and if litigation ensues, representing her clients at every stage of that litigation.
She draws upon the large network she has developed among appellate practitioners by working with them or against them, and by serving in leadership roles on appellate practice committees. She knows the inclinations and particular concerns of the many appellate court judges she has appeared before on multiple occasions, better information than may be acquired through research alone.
Dara attended night school in Pittsburgh, Pa, while working full-time for a Fortune 500 company in its marketing department as a technical writer and speechwriter, then continued to work full time by juggling part-time positions in the local District Attorney’s office and a civil litigation firm while completing law school. Before joining Zimmer Kunz in 1989, Dara worked in the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s office for ten years, in the Appellate Division. While there, she also served as the DA’s representative on the board of the nonprofit organization the Center for Victims, eventually serving as Board Vice President for years.
During her years with the DA’s office, in addition to handling hundreds of cases on appeal, she advised trial counsel on issues they confronted, always ensuring that a comprehensive record was prepared for an eventual successful appeal. That is a role she has played during her years with Zimmer Kunz as associate and shareholder, and she continues to do so in her current capacity as Of Counsel.
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.