Zuckerman Spaeder’s Health Care Work is Again Recognized with a Law360 Practice Group of the Year Award

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Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is pleased to announce that, for the second consecutive year, the firm’s health care work on behalf of providers and patients has earned a Law360 Practice Group of the Year award. For 2018, Zuckerman Spaeder is recognized in the benefits category, with Law360 focusing on the firm’s fight against insurers’ widespread mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse treatment claim denials. In 2017, the firm was recognized in the health care category. 

In its article about Zuckerman Spaeder, Law360 notes that the firm’s health practice, which is led by partners D. Brian Hufford and Jason Cowart, “has pioneered a strategy by which health care providers can use the Employee Retirement Income Security Act's fiduciary provisions to force insurers to answer for large-scale claim denials.” 

Law360 goes on to say that this “strategy paid off in the consolidated cases Wit et al. v. UnitedHealthcare et al. and Alexander et al. v. United Behavioral Health,” which represent the first time an insurer has been forced to stand trial for widespread behavioral health claim denials. A decision is pending in the case.

Commenting on the Law360 recognition, Mr. Hufford said, “Our fight against abusive insurer practices has forced companies to change behaviors, compensated thousands of providers and patients, and advanced health law. This important progress has been possible because of a remarkable team of Zuckerman Spaeder attorneys who are dedicated to delivering meaningful, systemic change.”

Law360 also points to several other important recent wins and class certifications, including Bushnell v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., where the firm survived a motion to dismiss in its first class action lawsuit challenging eating disorder treatment denials on the basis of the federal mental health parity act. The publication also calls-out the “significant recent achievement” of a obtaining an Eighth Circuit win in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group, which addressed a very common and highly lucrative tactic used by insurers to shortchange health care providers and their patients.

Mr. Cowart commented, “As the Peterson case indicates, our mental health work is part of a broader fight to force insurance industry accountability and transparency. Our cases challenge unfair insurance practices that drive up costs for medical professionals and hurt patients’ ability to access care.”

The firm’s cutting-edge work is being led by attorneys who are seeking not just to win individual cases, but to achieve landmark legal victories that impact future litigation. Its cases have gained high-profile support, including from the Department of Labor and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Mr. Hufford has also been individually recognized for this work, including for three consecutive years as a Law360 Health MVP and as National Law Journal Trailblazer. And both The Washington Post and CNBC have published Mr. Hufford’s opinion articles. Partners Bill Schultz, who returned in 2017 after spending five years as the General Counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services, and Peggy Dotzel, who served as Acting General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel at HHS and returned to the firm in 2018, add further experience, depth and strength to the practice.

Law360’s Practice Group of the Year awards are given to law firms responsible for significant legal victories and developments that resonated throughout the legal industry.

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