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

November 30, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC—Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that D. Brian Hufford, a partner in the firm’s New York office, has been named a Law360 Health MVP of the Year. This special recognition includes an article that profiles Mr. Hufford’s career and precedent-setting recent wins and is based on a review of elite attorneys nationwide who had the biggest wins and made the most significant contributions to their practice areas in the past year.

According to Law360, competition for the MVP distinction escalated this year, with editors reviewing more than 850 nominations. Mr. Hufford is one of five attorneys selected for the 2015 MVP distinction in the health practice area.

Calling Mr. Hufford “a litigation expert who has focused on the U.S. health care field for 20 years,” Law360 says that his “commitment to holding insurance companies accountable in health care disputes saw several major wins this year including a September ruling that health care providers can exercise ERISA rights assigned by their patients...” The profile notes that he “has a practice that grew out of a desire to clarify health care laws and to level a playing field that often appears to favor insurance behemoths rather than providers and patients.”

Mr. Hufford’s nomination centered on a series of recent court wins that have equipped health providers and their patients with powerful new legal tools for challenging abusive insurance industry practices. The wins are part of a relentless and strategic effort he and partner Jason S. Cowart have led using novel interpretations of the Employee Retirement and Security Act (ERISA), the law governing employee benefit plans.

Mr. Hufford’s recent work has focused on bringing clarity to two important questions: (1) whether providers are entitled to assert their patients’ ERISA rights; and (2) whether insurance companies, acting as “claims administrators” in managing self-funded health insurance plans, can be sued directly for their misconduct under ERISA. As a result of five key wins by Mr. Hufford over the last year, including before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits, the courts have answered both questions affirmatively, putting new legal power into the hands of providers.

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.

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