Zuckerman Spaeder Health Care Practice Named Law360 Practice Group of the Year

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that its health care practice has been named a Law360 Practice Group of the Year, an award given to law firms responsible for significant legal victories and developments that resonated throughout the legal industry in the past year. This award follows Law360’s recognition of D. Brian Hufford, the firm’s health care practice leader, as a Health MVP for the third consecutive year.

In its article about Zuckerman Spaeder, Law360 highlights the firm’s groundbreaking work on behalf of patients who have been denied the mental health and substance abuse coverage that was promised by their insurance plans. The publication notes that the firm’s health practice “won certification of three classes of patients seeking insurance coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment in 2017, furthering the work that went into winning the first-ever class certifications in mental health coverage litigation the year prior and earning it a place on Law360's Health Groups of the Year list.” 

Law360 points to the certifications in cases against Cigna Health, Aetna Inc. and subsidiaries of Anthem Inc. and Magellan Health, which followed precedent-setting wins in the consolidated cases Wit et al. v. UnitedHealthcare et al. and Alexander et al. v. United Behavioral Health. According to Law360, “The Wit case allowed for the first time an entire class of people to hold insurers responsible for allegedly denying coverage, and the firm further developed that legal theory with the certifications in 2017…In all three of the 2017 class certification opinions, the judges cited the Wit decision.”

"Our practice area is not just using individual cases and being successful, but basically building up legal theories," Mr. Hufford says in the article. "We're helping develop the law in an important way."

The health care practice’s work on behavioral health cases is part of a broader fight to force insurance industry accountability and transparency, often by representing doctors and other health providers facing unfair billing practices. This cutting-edge work, which was developed by Mr. Hufford and New York partner Jason Cowart, is being led by a team of attorneys who are seeking not just to win individual cases, but to achieve landmark legal victories that impact future litigation. The recent return of partner Bill Schultz, who spent five years as the General Counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services, adds further experience, depth and strength as the practice continues to be on the forefront of healthcare litigation.

The team’s’ work on behalf of mental health patients has gained high-profile support, including from the Department of Labor and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. And in just the last several months both The Washington Post and CNBC have published Mr. Hufford’s opinion articles, which examine the insurance industry’s pervasive efforts to undermine the delivery of quality, affordable health care.

Law360 also writes about the future of the firm’s health care work, saying, “Zuckerman Spaeder plans to expand its consulting practice for hospitals and large provider groups, as well as establish a defense practice for entities that face allegations of wrongdoing such as billing fraud.”

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Katie Munroe
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