Procedural Violations in ERISA Claims Handling

Probably the most important of the pre-holiday ERISA rulings in the First Circuit is Bard v. Boston Shipping Association, in which the First Circuit provides a detailed explanation of exactly how procedural and regulatory violations in handling ERISA claims will be addressed in this circuit henceforth. Notably, the court rejected the premise that such violations shall strip an administrator of the deference to which its decision making would otherwise be entitled. Instead, in this circuit, the court will examine the violations in light of the specific facts of the case before it, and then will design a remedy that resolves the actual harm, if any, caused by the specific violations in question.