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Zuckerman Spaeder Partners D. Brian Hufford and Cy Smith Named “Trailblazers” by The National Law Journal

August 28, 2017

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that D. Brian Hufford, a partner in the New York office, and Cy Smith, a partner in the Baltimore office, were named as “Trailblazers” by The National Law Journal. In recognizing Mr. Hufford and Mr. Smith in its plaintiff’s lawyer category, The National Law Journal highlighted their pioneer spirit and profiled what makes them each a trailblazer.

The National Law Journal notes that Mr. Hufford’s plaintiffs’ work, which focuses on representing health care providers and patients in battles with insurance companies, began in part because he admired his parents, whose “perspectives were always on helping people and providing a safety net.” It then points to what brought him specifically to health care:

“Hufford’s practice . . . began when his own son was diagnosed with a rare condition and the insurance company would only pay for part of the treatment, claiming that amount was ‘usual and customary.’ Hufford brought a lawsuit against UnitedHealthcare, which had developed the database that determined payments…The case settled 10 years later for $350 million.”

Mr. Hufford’s health care practice has grown to include a national effort on behalf of mental health patients, in which he’s using the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to challenge insurance providers alleged to be systematically and illegally denying mental health coverage – coverage that is owed to insured individuals under the Mental Health Parity Act and other laws. Among other honors in recognition of his growing practice, Law360 identified him as a “Health Law MVP” in 2015 and 2016.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Hufford spent two years as an honors attorney at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He attended Yale Law School, where he was notes and topics editor for the Yale Law and Policy Review, and he holds a B.A. and a Master of Urban Affairs from Wichita State University.

Mr. Smith moved to the plaintiffs’ side after beginning his career as a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. An important part of his recent work has been to seek justice for former NFL players suffering from brain injuries. His work on behalf of former football great Mike Webster led to a groundbreaking legal win against the NFL’s pension plan that paved the way for today’s national focus on head injuries in sports. Mr. Smith told The National Law Journal:

“'The evidence [in the Webster case] was overwhelming, so we filed a lawsuit. Defense counsel told us they never lost a case—that was basically their defense—but the judge ruled in our favor.’ After their wins at trial and before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the issue of brain injuries for former NFL players became a high profile matter, and Smith testified before Congress. He also recently won a case for former NFL player Jesse Solomon. ‘Someone added it up, and he had been hit more than 69,000 times. People realized it was happening right in front of them.’”

Mr. Smith’s NFL work is changing the nature of football and of sports in general. “The NFL has done a savvy job of delaying [recognition of] a problem that is inherent to the sport,” says Mr. Smith in his Trailblazer profile. “We will see how society feels about that 10 years from now.”

Mr. Smith attended the University of Virginia School of Law and Dartmouth College, where he was ranked first in the country for intercollegiate debate. In addition to his demanding legal practice, he has served as President of Beth Am Synagogue and co-chairs the synagogue’s capital campaign. Mr. Smith has also led several nonprofit organizations that serve the youth of Baltimore, including current service as the President of the Gil Sandler Fund, Inc.; chairing the board of the Lawyers’ Campaign for the College Bound Foundation; and serving as vice-chair of the board of the Baltimore Urban Debate League.

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