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Case Conclusion Date: 01.10.2011
Practice Area: Workers compensation
Outcome: Surviving spouse of worker who died of asbestos related disease entitled to full benefits.
Description: Weyerhaeuser argued that its former employee voluntarily retired prior to the date of manifestation of his asbestos related occupational disease, making his surviving spouse entitled to minimal benefits. The longstanding practice of the Department of Labor and Industries in such situations is to award benefits based on the worker's wages at the time of retirement. Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals found the relevant statute ambiguous and deferred to the Department's longstanding policy. As the agency charged with administering the statute, the Department's interpretation of it is entitled to deference.