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DOLORES ROCCO KULP

EDUCATION

Mrs. Kulp received her Juris Doctorate from Temple University School of Law in 1977. She also attended Temple University as an undergraduate receiving a B.A., with a major in Political Science in 1974, graduating Magna Cum Laude. Mrs. Kulp’s main scholastic honors were Phi Beta Kappa and President’s Scholar.

BAR ADMISSIONS

Mrs. Kulp was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in October, 1977. She is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

DISTINCTIONS

  • AV Preeminent 5 out of 5 rating by Martindale-Hubbell National Law Directory
  • 2015 – Top 100 Super Lawyers in Pennsylvania.
  • 2015 – Top 100 Super Lawyers in Philadelphia, PA.
  • 2015 – 2013 – Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in Pennsylvania.
  • 2015 – 2012 – Super Lawyer in the area of personal injury defense.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers in the Nation, 2015 – 2011.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Top Rated Lawyers in Litigation in the Nation, 2015, 2014.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Top Rated Lawyers in Transportation Law in the Nation, 2015 – 2013.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Top Rated Lawyers in Labor & Employment Law, 2013.
  • “Top Women Lawyers in the Northeast,” Arrive Magazine, July/August 2011.
  • A member of The National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel.
  • A member of The Justinian Society.
  • A member of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
  • A graduate of the Academy of Advocacy.
  • Co-author of a 260 page Treatise contrasting the laws of the 50 States on trespasser liability: “Trains and Trespassers: Who Has the Right of Way?” presented to the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel.
  • Guest lecturer for Pennsylvania’s continuing educational requirements for
    lawyers.

AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION / EXPERIENCE

Dolores is a trial and appellate attorney. She focuses her practice on the defense of insurance carriers and their insureds and the transportation industry (passenger railroads and passenger transit agencies, freight railroads, cab/bus companies and governmental agencies). She specializes in the defense of Federal Employers’ Liability Act claims, and the defense of catastrophic personal injury cases, premises liability, bus/trolley/cab/truck motor vehicle accidents, construction
personal injury or property damage claims with resultant contract litigation and subrogation, toxic torts, trespasser claims (burns and electrocution injuries), and general insurance defense. Mrs. Kulp excels at crafting first impression arguments
and at appellate practice, and has obtained many Appellate Court Opinions accepting her arguments.

Prior to forming her own Firm, Dolores worked as a Senior Trial Attorney for Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, as an Assistant City Solicitor, Major Trial Division, for the City of Philadelphia, and as a General Attorney for Consolidated Rail Corporation (where she also oversaw FELA and third party litigation in the States of Ohio and parts of Indiana and Kentucky).

Mrs. Kulp specializes in presenting arguments of first impression for her insured clients as well as immunity and preemption defenses for her public authority clients. By way of recent example she obtained:

  • dismissal by way of preliminary objection of most of the complaint in Estate of Michael Kronfeld v. SugarHouse, 2014 WL 7007417, Phila., C.C.P., September 2014, No. 02832 – a death case averring that SugarHouse Casino failed to render and to train its employees to render proper medical aid including use of an automated external defibrillator to an individual who is alleged to have died from a sudden cardiac arrest. The Opinion of the Court addressing statutory immunity (and for the first time holding that a corporation as a person is itself entitled to Good Samaritan immunity) and other dispositive matters was published on the front page of The Legal Intelligencer, December 12, 2014.
  • dismissal of an FELA complaint filed in state court wherein the plaintiff contended that she could rescind an Alternative Dispute Arbitration Agreement based on certain contingencies. Dismissal was based on the argument that the Arbitration Agreement which contained an “unlimited arbitration clause” confers on the Arbitrator (not the Court), the power to decide all issues of the type involved here. Further, under Pennsylvania law, when addressing the validity of arbitration agreements, the Court can only address issues of “substantive arbitrability,” i.e., is there an agreement to arbitrate. Once that agreement exists (and that was not disputed here), any issues arising from whether the parties can revoke the agreement, such as the timing of the refusal to execute a resignation of employment, or the issue of bad faith in negotiating a high/low parameter, are matters of “procedural arbitrability” which must be decided by the Arbitrator. Thus the Trial Court dismissed the case returning it to binding arbitration.
  • summary judgment for SEPTA in a catastrophic personal injury case arising from a bicycle accident where the plaintiff alleged that SEPTA failed to properly maintain abandoned trolley tracks which defect caused the bicyclist to be thrown from his bike and then run over by a UPS truck in Benjamin Zuckerman v. UPS, Flynn, SEPTA and City of Phila., Phila., C.C.P., February Term, 2011, No. 01740;
  • summary judgment based on the defense that SEPTA was the statutory employer of a contractor’s employee who worked as a “secret spy” for SEPTA as part of SEPTA’s quality control employee check program in Tanya James Parker v. SEPTA, Crystal Tucker and CoreStaff, Inc. (Consolidated Cases) Phila., C.C.P., June Term, 2011, No. 00493;
  • a defense award in a railroad crossing train accident wherein it was alleged that defective crossing gates came down prematurely striking and trapping minor plaintiff’s mother’s car and that the minor saw an
    oncoming train which caused her to panic and created emotional distress manifesting in stuttering, and acting out behaviors necessitating psychiatric and psychological treatment in Fiorella Garcia, a minor, et al v. SEPTA, Phila., C.C.P., January Term, 2012, No. 003969 (Of interest, the Garcia parents are headlined in newspapers and television regarding alleged theft of services for enrolling this child in a suburban school while living in Philadelphia during the course of this litigation. Dolores worked closely with the Montgomery County’s DA’s office as many of the allegations as to home location and marital status conflicted.)
  • obtained summary judgment for NJ Transit in Jason A. Scott, Sr. v. Central Laundry, Inc., Individually and d/b/a Olympic Supply and New Jersey Transit Corporation and New Jersey Bus Operations and Ernest Richardson, and James Stewart, Phila., C.C.P., January Term, 2011, No. 002521, on the basis that Plaintiff failed to adduce subjective evidence of the permanent loss of a bodily function that is substantial, as is required to sustain a claim for damages against an alter ego of the State of New Jersey (i.e., NJ Transit Bus Operations, Inc.,) under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.A. 59:9- 2(d).
  • obtained dismissal of several cases from the Court of Common Pleas on behalf of NJ Transit on the basis that the NJ Sovereign Immunity Act requires that lawsuits arising from accidents occurring in NJ must be filed in NJ, even if involving Pennsylvania residents in Leona Smith v NJT, Phila., C.C.P., February Term 2013, No. 2339; Brown v NJT, June Term 2014, No. 3444; Hill v NJT and Greyhound, April Term 2014, No. 1195;
  • an opinion from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia that SEPTA is not a common carrier under Pennsylvania law and therefore SEPTA does not owe the highest duty of care to its’ passengers. Robert Bauer v. SEPTA, Phila., C.C.P., July Term, 2010, No. 001318;
  • an opinion that the Federal Railroad Safety Act and its implementing regulations in the C.F.R. preempt tort claims alleging improper track construction and rail operation resulting in JNOV by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. Mastrocola, et al v. SEPTA, 941 A.2d 81 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2008). The Mastrocola decision was not only a landmark decision in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania applying federal preemption under the Federal Railroad Safety Act to SEPTA but, likewise, it was the first case nationwide to rule that the 2007 Amendments to 49 U.S.C.A. §20106 did not effect prior law on the preemption defense. (Mastrocola is now cited as a seminal case for that proposition);
  • obtained summary judgment in a case of first impression resulting in a landmark decision in Frank Tomichek v. SEPTA, Phila. C.C.P., July Term 2002, No. 04720 with the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia ruling that FELA claims based upon injuries arising from different sized ballast, or the nature or condition of ballast, were precluded based on federal preemption.

During her career, Mrs. Kulp has also had significant trial and appellate success in trespasser liability cases. Mrs. Kulp was trial counsel for the City of Philadelphia on the leading case in Pennsylvania on trespasser liability, Scarborough v. Lewis, 523 Pa. 30, 565 A.2d 122 (1989). In fact this case assumes an entire chapter in the biography “Courtroom Cowboy, The Life of a Legal Trailblazer Jim Beasley,” by Ralph Cipriano. She also successfully argued to the Commonwealth Court sitting en banc that Pennsylvania should not adopt an exception to trespasser liability based on the theory that a parallel permissive way provides trespassers with the status of licensee in the case of James M. Brown, Administrator of the Estate of James M. Brown, Jr., Deceased v. SEPTA, 2924 C.D. 1999 (Pa. Cmwlth.), Phila. C.C.P., November Term 1997, No. 01850. This case was deemed to be so significant that Amicus Briefs were submitted by CSX, AMTRAK, CONRAIL, and Norfolk Southern.