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California

Fullerton paint company to pay nearly $1 million in worker’s death

Case lead to the death of a paint company employee and the injury of a second.

A Fullerton paint company agreed to pay nearly $1 million to settle a lawsuit stemming from the 2011 death of an employee, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Orange County district attorney’s office had accused Vista Paint Corp. of violating a previously issued injunction by allowing the unsafe handling of substances containing methylene chloride, according to a news release.

When used without proper ventilation, methylene chloride can cause cancer and death.

On Nov. 15, 2011, Roberto Ramirez Magdariaga and another employee were exposed to methylene chloride while working at Vista Paint’s Fullerton plant, prosecutors said. Magdariaga later died, while the other employee survived with serious injuries.

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The paint company failed to establish safe protocol for handling methylene chloride or properly train employees about the toxic chemical, prosecutors said.

The company also failed to properly report to regulatory agencies regarding its use of methylene chloride, officials said.

Of the $950,000 that the company agreed to pay, about $300,000 will go to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health to cover penalties and investigative costs, while $150,000 will go to charities benefiting area residents. The bulk of the damages go for victim restitution and civil penalties.

As part of the settlement, Vista Paint faces a permanent injunction forcing compliance with health and safety laws and annual audits by Cal/OSHA, prosecutors said. 

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