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Zuckerman Spaeder Partner D. Brian Hufford Again Named Law360 Health MVP of the Year

December 7, 2016

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that, for the second year in a row, D. Brian Hufford, a partner in the firm’s New York office, has been named a Law360 Health MVP of the Year. In recognizing Mr. Hufford, Law360 published an article that profiles Mr. Hufford’s decades-long fight, and precedent-setting recent wins on behalf of patients and health care providers against their insurance companies. Mr. Hufford was chosen out of an elite group of attorneys nationwide who have achieved the biggest wins and made the most significant contributions to their practice areas in the past year.

Noting that Mr. Hufford has “made a career of getting insurance companies to expand mental and behavioral health coverage by challenging their internal processes,” Law360 pointed to the two recent wins that earned him this year’s coveted spot, going on to say:

In September, Hufford’s team got a U.S. Magistrate judge to approve a thousands-strong class of plan holders who were denied residential treatment or outpatient services despite arguments from UBH [United Behavioral Health] that medical denial claims can’t be determined on a class-wide basis… in 2015, the Second Circuit handed Hufford another victory against the insurer in a case over mental health benefits. The appeals court said that under ERISA, policyholders had the right to sue the insurance company administering benefits, not just the plan or employer paying for the benefits.

Mr. Hufford launched his practice after a frustrating personal experience, in which his insurance company refused to tell him why it failed to pay $250 in a doctor’s bill for his son’s medical visit. This refusal, and failure to even offer an explanation, led directly to ERISA-based litigation that resulted in insurers paying out two of the largest healthcare-related recoveries in U.S. history—a $350 million settlement with United Healthcare in 2010 and a $250 million settlement with Health Net in 2008.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Hufford spent two years as an honors attorney in the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Honors Law Program. He attended Yale Law School, where he was notes and topics editor for the Yale Law and Policy Review and was awarded the Thomas I. Emerson Prize for the Outstanding Legislative Services Project. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Urban Affairs from Wichita State University.

Mr. Hufford is part of a team of attorneys in Zuckerman Spaeder's cutting edge health care practice, which is a national leader in fighting for the legal rights of providers and patients. Having pioneered unique applications of ERISA, the team works to hold insurance companies accountable for the internal rules and procedures that drive so many decisions affecting patient health and provider reimbursements. This work has led to precedent-setting wins for health providers and two of the largest settlements of ERISA benefit class actions in history. Their 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.

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