Brent Hannafan

Brent A. Hannafan

Nashville Partner

Brent Hannafan is a Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and Co-Chair of the firm’s Trial Practice Group.

At Sanford Heisler Sharp, Brent’s practice has focused on employment discrimination, public interest litigation, and complex civil litigation, representing both individuals and classes. Working with a team of Sanford Heisler Sharp attorneys, Brent has represented clients including:

  • Dozens of counties and cities across the nation in their claims against opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers
  • The ongoing class litigation on behalf of current and former 401(k) plan participants in claims of fiduciary breach against UnitedHealth Group in Snyder v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc. et al.
  • The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore in claims against Polymer80 for manufacturing, selling, and advertising easy-to-assemble, un-traceable ghost gun kits and parts
  • Litigating discrimination claims on behalf of a bank’s senior executive

Brent received his law degree from Washington University and his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University. While at Washington University, he was an Articles Editor on the law review Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law.

Brent is a member of the Tennessee and New York bars.Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Brent was an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee. Brent investigated and prosecuted all variety of federal crimes and tried over 20 criminal jury trials to verdict. In 2017, Brent was awarded a Department of Justice Director’s Award for his prosecution of members of a large-scale drug trafficking organization and obstruction of justice by a local police office.

Brent served as the Chief of the Office’s Criminal Division from 2017 to 2023. As Chief of the Criminal Division, he managed and oversaw all federal criminal investigations and prosecutions in the Middle District of Tennessee. Those cases involved health care fraud, bank, wire, mail, investment, and tax frauds, public corruption, murder-for-hire, drug trafficking, firearms, money laundering, RICO, VICAR, civil rights violations, terrorism, child exploitation, and immigration offenses. As Criminal Chief, he participated in trial preparation, strategic planning, and advising trial teams for more than 50 trials.

Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Brent worked a litigation associate at two international law firms in New York and Chicago.

Brent taught as an instructor at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center’s Basic Trial Advocacy Course from 2010 to 2023. He also teaches Trial Advocacy as an Adjunct Professor at Belmont College of Law.


  • J.D., Washington University, 1995
  • B.A., Vanderbilt University, 1992

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois (retired status)
  • New York
  • Tennessee 

Court Admissions

  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York


  • Adjunct Professor at Belmont College of Law – Trial Advocacy Course (since 2017)
  • Instructor at the Basic Trial Advocacy Course at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center (2010 to 2023)

UnitedHealth Certified ERISA Class Action

This class action accuses the fiduciaries of UnitedHealth’s 401(k) plan of violating their fiduciary duties under ERISA by keeping one of the worst-performing target date investment options in the entire market, the Wells Fargo Target Fund Suite, as the plan’s default investment for over a decade.

Robert De Niro Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges that De Niro and Canal Productions subjected their longtime employee, Graham Chase Robinson, to a hostile work environment, including unwelcome physical contact, sexually-charged comments, verbal abuse, and sex-stereotyping.

Allstate ERISA Class Action

Sanford Heisler Sharp is currently evaluating whether Allstate mismanaged its 401(k) plan.

UnitedHealth Group ERISA Class Complaint

ERISA Company Name: UnitedHealth Group Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a class complaint in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota alleging that the UnitedHealth Group breaches basic fiduciary duties under ERISA and violates its employees’ trust by mismanaging their retirement funds. The complaint alleges UnitedHealth Group failed to remove from its employee […]

Rabbi Freundel Voyeurism Class Action

Early in 2015, Freundel pleaded guilty in a criminal proceeding before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, to numerous counts of illicitly filming women as they used the “mikvah”- a Jewish ritual bath frequently used by married Orthodox women as well as by women undergoing conversion to Judaism.

Transamerica ERISA Class Action

The complaint alleges the company invests employees’ retirement savings in multiple funds that consistently underperform their investment benchmarks and other similar collective investment funds.

Norton Rose Fulbright/Chadbourne & Parke LLP Gender Discrimination Class Action – $3.1 Million Settlement

According to Plaintiff Kerrie Campbell, a nationally recognized trial lawyer and partner in Chadbourne’s Washington, DC office, female partners at the firm are excluded from positions of decision-making authority and receive less pay and bonuses even when they out-perform their male counterparts. There is only a one-tier partnership, with every partner characterized as an equity partner.

Ian Jack Miller v. Zara USA, Inc. et al.

In 2015, Sanford Heisler Sharp filed a $40 million lawsuit against Zara USA, Inc., the flagship brand for the largest fashion retailer in the world, Inditex Group. The lawsuit alleges that Zara discriminated against and then fired its in-house counsel, Ian Jack Miller, because he is Jewish, American, and gay. The case seeks damages for creating a hostile work environment, pay discrimination, and unlawful and retaliatory termination based on Mr. Miller’s nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.

Fabio Silva v. Giorgio Armani Corp., Et. Al.

According to his complaint, during his tenure at Giorgio Armani Corporation, the company’s Chief Financial Officer informed General Counsel Fabio Silva he did not trust Mexicans, and thereafter subjected Mr. Silva to increased scrutiny and discriminatory treatment. When General Counsel Silva reported this treatment to Chief Operations Officer, Giorgio Fornari, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Lucinda Rosso, General Counsel Silva was berated for complaining. General Counsel Silva was then denied a raise for reporting the discrimination.

Columbia University Sexual Harassment Case – $1.25 Million Jury Verdict

The complaint provides extensive details regarding how the senior leadership of Columbia – including the Provost of the University and the Dean of Columbia Business School – allowed one of Columbia’s senior, tenured professors to sexually harass and obstruct the work of a female junior faculty member, plaintiff Enrichetta Ravina.