Sandra J. Durkin

Sandra Durkin never shrinks from a challenge, so it’s no surprise that she has made her mark helping health plans resolve complex disputes. A persuasive litigator and thoughtful counselor, Sandra delivers well-researched, nuanced legal advice as she guides clients through the litigation and arbitration process. She is also a tenacious advocate, on the lookout for efficient resolutions but also prepared to dig in and do whatever is necessary to help her clients achieve their business and litigation objectives.

With a practical understanding of her clients’ business realities, Sandra offers efficient, effective means to managing litigation and mitigating risk in a changing legal and regulatory landscape.

Health plans benefit from her experience

Before focusing her practice on health care, Sandra handled complex commercial litigation for companies in a host of industries. She draws on this knowledge to develop creative and effective approaches to health care disputes. In particular, she knows what sways decisionmakers to rule in her clients’ favor, as evidenced by her victories at all stages of litigation, from early dispositive motions to discovery disputes all the way to summary judgment and trial.

Sandra has represented health plans in payor-provider disputes, affirmative litigation against the federal government under the Tucker Act, affirmative follow-on False Claims Act recoveries, and multidistrict class action litigation. She defends insurers’ rights and obligations under the Affordable Care Act, including fighting the government for millions of dollars in risk corridors payments.

Sandra also has extensive experience representing insurance companies in cases involving allegations of breaches of contract, fraud, breaches of fiduciary duties, bad faith, and violations of state and federal statutes and regulations, in state and federal court as well as in confidential arbitrations.

Ditching the legalese

Executives and in-house counsel facing litigation need context and clarity in order to decide on the optimal strategy and course that is best for the business. Sandra has a knack for making complicated legal and procedural concepts accessible. Boiling the issues down to the most essential elements, Sandra tailors her message to her audience. Her ability to frame the issues and clearly make her client’s case contributes to her record of success in court and in arbitration.

A force for good

Beginning in law school, Sandra has demonstrated a deep commitment to helping the vulnerable and less fortunate. As a young associate, she was a Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Fellow in the Cook County Public Defender’s Office – Juvenile Justice Division, and she has represented indigent clients in Section 1983 civil rights and mortgage foreclosure litigation, as well as immigration and criminal matters.  She continues to maintain a robust pro bono practice focused on protecting immigrants’ rights, representing DACA recipients and obtaining significant victories for asylum applicants before the immigration court.

Representative matters

  • Represented BCBSA as amicus curiae in a federal appeal implicating health insurers’ entitlement to over $12.3 billion in risk corridors payments under the ACA
  • Represented Premera Blue Cross in prosecution of claims for over $117 million in risk corridors underpayments under the ACA
  • Represented Humana Inc. and Humana Pharmacy Solutions in responding to subpoenas related to allegations of conspiracy and price fixing of EpiPen drug devices
  • Defended Illinois Medicaid plan against major hospital system for alleged underpayment of claims, resolving claims swiftly before discovery
  • Represented insurer seeking a declaration that no coverage exists with regard to multimillion-dollar settlements of certain underlying managed care disputes and that the insured has an obligation to reimburse the insurer for previously advanced defense costs
  • Represented multiple mortgage and credit insurers in coverage, fraud, and bad faith disputes against various lenders and loan servicers, including prosecuting case seeking rescission and return of hundreds of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds paid under fraudulently-induced insurance policies
  • Defended seller accused of fraud and breaches of representations and warranties in connection with $55 million transaction; obtained dismissal of all fraud claims and attorneys’ fees

Accolades

Sandra was recognized in the 2018 edition of The Legal 500 United States as a recommended leading attorney in the category ‘Insurance: Advice to Insurers.’

Community involvement

Sandra is a member of the National Immigration Justice Center Junior Leadership Board, an organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protections and access to justice for all immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Previous experience

Sandra was an associate first at Jenner & Block LLP, and then at Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP.  She left Butler Rubin as a partner to join Strategic Health Law.

Professional affiliations

Sandra is a member of the American Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association and the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.

Admissions

Sandra is admitted to practice in the State of Illinois, the Northern District of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit, the Federal Circuit, and the Court of Federal Claims.

Education and honors

Sandra earned her J.D. at the University of Michigan Law School, where she was a Clarence Darrow Scholar as well as Executive Editor and Contributing Editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law. She has a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in English from the University of Arizona, magna cum laude.

Thought Leadership

Publications

June, 2016
ACA Risk Corridor Funding Falls Short, Litigation Ensues
Law360
Author: Sandra Durkin
April, 2016
Emerging Disputes Over Risk Sharing Under The ACA
Law360
Author: Sandra Durkin
May, 2010
The Legal Arizona Workers Act and Preemption Doctrine
Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 15, No. 2
Author: Sandra Durkin

Presentations

May 1, 2018
Litigation Solutions in the Wake of Affordable Care Act Implementation, Evaluating Claims for Relief Under the Tucker Act and the Administrative Procedures Act
Blue Cross Blue Shield 2018 Annual Summit
April, 2008
The Method of Images for Regularized Stokeslets
Journal of Computational Physics, Vol. 227, No. 9
Co-author: Sandra Durkin

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