Zuckerman Spaeder Receives Three Law360 Practice Group of the Year Awards for its Work in White Collar, Health Care, and Benefits

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that it has received three Law360 Practice Group of the Year recognitions for its 2019 achievements in the areas of White Collar, Health Care, and Benefits. 

Law360 recognized Zuckerman Spaeder for handling “some of the highest-profile white collar cases of 2019,” led by the headline-making acquittal of prominent attorney Gregory Craig. In leading Mr. Craig’s defense, the firm convinced prosecutors with the Southern District of New York not to pursue charges and then obtained a complete victory after the case was brought to trial by federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. 

Other important firm wins came when the Securities and Exchange Commission dropped all charges against Gregory Law, a former executive with Osiris Therapeutics Inc., and when multiple investigations into former FEGS executive Ira Machowsky were all concluded without any charges being filed. Remarking on the Gregory Law case, Aitan Goelman said, “the SEC tried to make a deal with Law, but the team refused, making it clear that the regulator should drop the charges,” telling them, “you're the government and it's the right thing to do.”

The firm’s health care practice has “made a name for itself in the health care industry” with a landmark win on behalf of mental health parity and for helping ensure that the federal 340B program can continue to deliver needed drug discounts to hospitals and patients in rural or underserved communities. Partners William Schultz and D. Brian Hufford told Law360 that the firm, “has been able to tackle interesting cases because it doesn't represent major brand pharmaceutical companies or insurers — a fact that distinguishes the firm from others in the health care space.” Mr. Schultz continued, “what sets us apart is that we tend to represent the small interest — whether it's the patients in this insurance practice, the advocates in terms of tobacco or the nonprofit hospitals in the 340B case.” 

The firm’s 340B work in 2019 centered on two lawsuits, one of which led to a court ruling that halted a government plan that would have led to $1.6 billion in program cuts. The other lawsuit forced the Trump Administration to end its delay in implementing long-awaited 340B program changes, which were passed by Congress in 2010 and aimed at improving the transparency and accountability of the program. 

Representing thousands of adults and adolescents, Zuckerman Spaeder took the nation’s largest mental health claims administrator to trial for systematically denying the coverage promised to plan holders which resulted in one of most significant wins in the fight for mental health parity. In March of 2019, U.S. District Court, N. Cal. issued a ruling against United Behavioral Health (UBH) that was called “scathing” by The New York Times and “the Brown vs. Board of Education for the mental health movement” by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy.

Mr. Hufford commented, “the firm actually used precedent that had been developed by insurance companies under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.” He explains, “That's sort of what we've done with our practice. We use theories that insurance companies previously used to defend themselves and turn it against them.”

Law360 also points to the firm’s lawsuit against Aetna Inc. for wrongly denying coverage for the depression treatment transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Mr. Hufford noted that, in addition to delivering a significant settlement, the lawsuit led Aetna to begin covering TMS, “joining ‘every other’ major insurance company.”

Zuckerman Spaeder’s recognition in the benefits category focused on its unique practice that is challenging the discriminatory and abusive practices of for-profit health insurers. The firm’s 2019 achievements included the mental health work – the win against UBH, along with other wins that delivered relief for patients and led insurers to change coverage policies – and its work on behalf of health care providers.

Most notably, the firm achieved an appellate win against UnitedHealth for its use of “cross-plan offsetting,” a little-known but highly-lucrative insurer practice that deprives out-of-network providers of billions of dollars in compensation. Seen as a decisive blow against the practice, the case has reverberated throughout the industry.

Mr. Hufford commented on the specialized nature of this ERISA-based work, saying, “There are really very few firms that do it, especially of the quality of a place like Zuckerman. Big firms have a lot of conflicts because they can't sue insurance companies. We are able to go after the big insurance companies and claims administrators on behalf of patients…”

The annual Law360 Practice Group awards are given to “law firms behind litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry in the past year.”