Sandra’s practice focuses on resolution of complex tort and liability matters in the civil and commercial litigation areas, and in particular, in insurance defence litigation. She has appeared at all levels of the Alberta Courts, and has extensive experience in alternate dispute resolution proceedings, including both judicial and private mediation.
Sandra has defended claims arising from product, municipal and school liability, and from serious accidents. Select Trial experience includes successful defence of a municipality against allegations of defective road design and defective gravelling operations (Sims v. Leduc); defence of allegations of chronic pain arising from motor vehicle accidents (Amendola v. James, Gilchrist v. Oatway, Youssef v. Pickerl, Versfelt v. Semler, Wittmeier v. Scholes, Vollrath v. Bruce, and Cho v. Gordon), and defence of a school teacher and school board sued by a student rendered a quadriplegic while taking part in a gymnastics class (MacCabe v. Westlock).
Sandra has defended fire loss and business interruption claims, and has been involved in resolution and litigation of insurance coverage issues. Sandra has also provided advice to American attorneys and manufacturers requiring cross border litigation assistance, and is familiar with the Canadian regulatory regime. Sandra regularly attends the DRI Product Liability Conference to keep abreast of developments in American law and jurisprudence.
Sandra is extensively involved in the civil defence bar in Canada, and in the United States. Sandra served as a Board Member of Canadian Defence Lawyers (CDL) from 2003 to 2013. She was CDL President in 2008 to 2009. Canadian Defence Lawyers is a national organization representing the interests of civil defence lawyers. Sandra chaired and served on numerous Board Committees during her 10 year term. CDL was awarded an “Outstanding Defense Bar Association” award by DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar during Sandra’s presidency.
Sandra also served on the Board of DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar (2008 to 2011). DRI is an American national defense attorney organization with membership of 22,000 plus. Prior to serving on the DRI Board, Sandra represented the Canadian region as General Council Representative (2005 to 2008). Sandra is the first Albertan to have served on the DRI Board. Sandra has received a DRI State Leadership Award (2008), an Exceptional Performance Citation (2009), and a Service Award (2011). While on the Board, Sandra acted as a liaison to substantive law Committees, and served on other Board Committees and Task Forces. Sandra remains involved in the DRI International Committee, the Product Liability Committee, and the Women in the Law Committee. She is also an appointed member of the DRI Membership Committee (2011 to present).
Sandra enjoys membership in two vetted American organizations, the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (FDCC), and the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC). She is Vice Chair of the FDCC International Practice & Law Section (2012 and 2013). She was elected to the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation in 2012. She also enjoys membership in the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys (ADTA).
Sandra has been involved in Committee work with the Law Society of Alberta since 2000. She has served as a member of the Insurance Committee (2000 to 2002); the Civil Practice Advisory Committee (2005 to 2007; 2013 to present); the Conduct Committee (2008 to 2011); and the Professional Responsibility Committee (2012). She was Vice Chair of the Civil Practice Advisory Committee in 2007. As a member of the Conduct Committee, Sandra sat on panels reviewing the conduct of members, pursuant to the Legal Profession Act , to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for a matter to proceed to a disciplinary hearing.
Sandra recently joined the CBA-Alberta Branch Provincial Council (2013), and is currently serving as President of the Edmonton Bar Association (2012 to 2013).
Sandra has co-taught Insurance Law as a sessional instructor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta since January, 2012. Insurance Law is a substantive course for second and third year law students. In addition to serving as a sessional instructor, Sandra has served as a volunteer for Legal Education Society of Alberta (LESA). LESA serves the educational and professional development needs of Alberta lawyers, articling students and staff. Sandra has organized and chaired full day seminars in Edmonton and Calgary including Insurance and Personal Injury Update (2012), Insurance Act (2007), Insurance Update (2007), Insurance Update (2003). She has lectured on topics including the Rules of Court, disability insurance, and the Family Protection Endorsement. She has instructed both Trial Advocacy and Examinations for Discovery through the bar admission/CPLED Alberta courses (2001 to 2009), and serves as a Competency Evaluator for both Interviewing and Negotiations in the CPLED Alberta program (2010 to present). Sandra has also been involved in providing continuing legal education through Canadian Defence Lawyers (CDL). Sandra organized and co-chaired full day regional seminars on topics of interest to civil defence lawyers in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009. In addition, Sandra has organized and chaired Canadian Defence Lawyers’ national Annual Meeting and Conference twice (2007 and 2012). Sandra has lectured at CDL regional and national conferences on topics including surveillance evidence, bad faith, products liability, and liability defences.
Sandra has also addressed the Canadian Health Care System at two American conferences, one hosted by DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar (2012), and the other hosted by the International Association of Defense Counsel (2011). Most recently, she spoke about Legal Retention Issues from a Canadian Perspective at an American conference hosted by the Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (2013).