Case # 30-2014-00758971-CU-MC-CJC
Date: January 7, 2015
VISTA PAINT TO PAY $950,000 TO SETTLE LAWSUIT FOR ILLEGAL HANDLING AND USE OF TOXIC HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCE
*Unsafe environment resulted in 2011 death of employee
SANTA ANA – Vista Paint Corporation (Vista Paint) was ordered to pay $950,000 to settle a civil lawsuit charging illegal handling and use of a toxic hazardous substance, which resulted in the death of one employee and serious injury to another at Vista Paint’s Fullerton facility. The final judgment signed in the Superior Court of California in Orange County by the Honorable Frederick P. Horn on Dec. 11, 2014, was received earlier this week.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) charged Vista Paint for violating a prior injunction (OCSC Case No. 30-2010-00436630) by permitting the unsafe handling and use by employees of a paint and epoxy remover that contained a toxic hazardous substance known as methylene chloride. Methylene chloride is known to cause cancer, death and long-term harm to individuals exposed to the substance without adequate ventilation.
On Nov. 15, 2011, Vista Paint employee Roberto Ramirez Magdariaga was overwhelmed by the chemical exposure to methylene chloride while working at the Fullerton facility, which resulted in his death, and caused serious injury to another employee.
Vista Paint failed to establish a safe procedure for the use of methylene chloride, and properly train employees and report to regulatory authorities as required when using methylene chloride to protect the safety of persons, property and the environment.
Under the terms of the judgment, Vista Paint will be subject to a permanent injunction requiring compliance with health and safety laws, and an annual audit of its facilities by the California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Vista Paint is also required to pay a total of $950,000 in civil penalties, restitution and charitable contributions, including $340,000 in victim restitution, $296,540 in administrative penalties and investigation costs to Cal/OSHA, $150,000 in charitable contributions to benefit Orange County citizens and the environment, and $163,460 in civil penalties that will provide support for future investigations and enforcement of California’s business and professions code laws.
The case was referred to the OCDA by Cal/OSHA, which protects workers from health and safety hazards in California workplaces.
Deputy District Attorney Kelly Roosevelt of the Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit prosecuted this case.