First Circuit Refuses to Excuse Tardy Claim for Benefits Appeal under the “Substantial Compliance” Doctrine
In Fortier v. Hartford Life & Acc. Ins., the First Circuit held that the “judicially created” substantial compliance doctrine did not save an untimely appeal from a denial of long-term disability benefits. In Fortier, the plaintiff appealed from the denial of her claim for long-term disability benefits after the 180-day deadline called for in her plan and under DOL regulations. After rejecting various arguments about the timing of the notice of denial, the First Circuit held that the substantial compliance doctrine could not save the plaintiff’s untimely claim. The court did so despite the fact that the disability insurer in the case had relied upon the substantial compliance doctrine in its favor in the past.