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Widow Seeking Benefits Ushered Ahead

(CN) - A widow seeking workers' compensation benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act can return to the review board that previously denied her, the 9th Circuit said Tuesday on remand from the Supreme Court.

Luisa Valladolid's late husband, Juan, died while working for Pacific Operations Offshore as a roustabout. During the years he worked for the company, he spent the majority of his time doing maintenance aboard an oil-drilling platform 3 miles off the California coast, but he died during a rare assignment collecting scrap metal at an onshore facility.

Valladolid received death benefits from California, but an administrative law judge denied her request for further benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. On appeal, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit upheld the ruling as to the latter act, but found that a worker need not be be injured or killed on the outer continental shelf to qualify for benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act as long as the injuries resulted from outer continental shelf operations.

The Supreme Court affirmed the 9th Circuit's interpretation in January, finding that the appeals court had correctly based its decision on whether Valladolid could establish a "substantial nexus" between his injury and his employer's extractive operations on the outer continental shelf.

In a brief order published Tuesday, the San Francisco-based federal appeals panel remanded the case to the Benefits Review Board for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court's ruling.

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