Overview

Sandra Heller is a South Florida attorney who focuses her national practice on advising clients in the identification and prevention of complex fraud schemes, as well as seeking civil recovery on their behalf. Ms. Heller analyzes, counsels, investigates and litigates civil recovery actions in multiclaim insurance fraud cases on behalf of both large national and regional private health insurance carriers, as well as national property and casualty insurers in state and federal courts, and in arbitrations administered by the American Arbitration Association (AAA). She assists in fraud investigations throughout the United States, and her work has created impactful and transformative case law in this arena.

Ms. Heller has experience prosecuting affirmative legal claims on behalf of insurance carriers, as well as providing vigorous defense in benefit-related litigation matters, including the investigation of fraud, waste, abuse and error in the submission of claims to private health insurers, and claims governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Ms. Heller's work has assisted health insurers in combatting the exploitation of its most vulnerable patients, including those who are undergoing treatment for substance use disorders. Ms. Heller also has extensive experience with fraud, waste and abuse schemes involving Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Bodily Injury (BI) and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) related coverages in state and federal courts. She also litigates bankruptcy actions involving providers who seek protections to avoid litigation of fraud, waste and abuse claims. In addition, Ms. Heller guides and supports insurance clients by implementing strategies resulting from key legislative changes and regulatory reporting responsibilities.

Ms. Heller is an active speaker, often sharing her knowledge of insurance fraud at conferences nationwide. She began her legal career as an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County in Fort Worth, Texas, where, among other things, she was a member of the elite Crimes Against Children Unit, in which she took more than 90 prosecutions to jury verdict.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. Heller was a board member and co-chair of the fraud and recovery practice group for a national law firm.

Representative Experience

  • Represented a national health insurer in federal court against substance use disorder facility and associated laboratory, detox facility and marketing arm involving claims of fraud, violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practice Act (FDUTPA) and unjust enrichment pertaining to performance of unnecessary and unlawful urine drug testing, as well as the inappropriate use of marketing entities and the unlawful brokering of patients
  • Represented a national health insurer in an action in which counterclaims were advanced against related substance use disorder providers in numerous states alleging schemes involving patient brokering, referrals for unnecessary and non-U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved ancillary services and violations of the federal Elimination of Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA)
  • Represented a national health insurer as a creditor in a bankruptcy action in which a substance use disorder facility that was the subject of district court litigation sought relief via a Chapter 11 action; successfully sought appointment of a trustee due to fraudulent and unlawful conduct on the part of the debtor facility
  • Represented a national health insurer as a creditor in a bankruptcy action in which a substance use disorder facility that was the subject of district court litigation sought relief via a Chapter 7 action
  • Represented a national health insurer in federal court securing dismissals of provider claims for failure to properly plead Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)-related causes of action, while asserting counterclaims for fraudulent conduct involving exploitation of patients through the inappropriate use of urine drug testing and failure to comply with state and federal law
  • Represented a national health insurer in federal court involving claims against substance use disorder facilities and a related laboratory involving claims of violations of FDUTPA and Patient Brokering Act pertaining to the inappropriate use of urine drug testing and unlawful patient referrals
  • Represented a major auto insurance carrier in federal court involving claims of fraud, FDUTPA, unjust enrichment and declaratory relief against a medical provider, prevailing on all claims on summary judgment; created new and impactful case law regarding the submission of a fraudulent application for licensure from the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration deeming the resulting licensure void ab initio
  • Represented a major auto insurance carrier in a federal court action involving unjust enrichment and declaratory relief, prevailing on all summary judgment claims; created new and impactful law regarding the failure to collect copayments and deductibles insurance fraud as a matter of law, as well as confirming the statutory duties of medical directors under Florida's Health Care Clinic Licensing Act
  • Represented a major auto insurance carrier in state court declaratory action pertaining to allegations of provider coding and billing practices in contravention of American Medical Association (AMA) guidelines and the Florida No-Fault Law, prevailing at trial and establishing that failure to utilize AMA Editorial Panel Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding fails to place insurer on notice of a covered loss
  • Represented a client in a matter involving counterclaims for fraud and unjust enrichment, on behalf of a major auto insurance carrier in an action including defense of breach of contract claims pertaining to PIP benefits
  • Represented clients in defense of claims against major auto insurance carriers and their insureds, wherein damages included certain spinal procedures performed on personal injury claimants

  • Assisted a medical provider client in an internal investigation to determine compliance with Medicare reporting requirements and preparation of internal action plan

Credentials

Education
  • Texas Tech University School of Law, J.D.
  • Texas A&M University, B.B.A., Management
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • Florida
  • Texas
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. Supreme Court
Memberships
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
  • Florida Insurance Fraud Education Committee, Certified Trainer
  • International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASIU), Certified Trainer
  • Medical Claims Defense Network, Certified Trainer
  • Broward County Bar Association
  • Florida Association of Women Lawyers
Honors & Awards
  • Florida Super Lawyers magazine, 2020
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020

Speaking Engagements

News