Injured California Firefighters Sue Firms Responsible for Explosion

Four firefighters from two California departments have filed suit against two firms that were responsible for an explosion in Santa Paula last year. The firefighters were reportedly injured at the scene after they were assured by company representatives that is was safe for them to enter.

Three Santa Paula firefighters, Matt May, Matt Lindsey and Milo Bustillos, along with Ventura County firefighter Lucas Beller, filed suit against Santa Clara Waste Water Co., and Green Compass Environmental Solutions LLC, over their injuries which include serious and disabling pulmonary conditions. The Santa Paula firefighters have not been able to return to work. The complaint includes allegations intentional and negligent misrepresentation against the firms.

On November 18, 2014, a vacuum truck inadvertently sucked up sodium chlorite, causing a chemical spill and leading to an hazardous explosion. The incident led to criminal charges against both firms and nine of their employees. Last August, Ventura County District Attorney Gregory D. Totten secured a 71 county grand jury indictment. The charges include conspiracy, illegal disposal of hazardous waste, handling hazardous waste with reckless disregard, knowing failure to warn of serious concealed danger, causing impairment to an employee, causing great bodily injury by emitting an air contaminant, and repeated violations of safety standards. Two managers have already pled guilty.

Here is a copy of the indictment: 20150819-santa-clara-waste-water-indictment

As of today the complaint is not available, and will be posted as soon as a copy is located.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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