Calif. company due in court for Colo. fire deaths

December 19, 2011 - 1:05 PM

DENVER (AP) — A California specialty painting company is expected to plead guilty in the 2007 deaths of five workers at a Colorado power plant, in the rare prosecution of a company.

RPI Coatings Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., is expected to plead guilty Monday to five misdemeanor counts of workplace safety violations resulting in death.

During a court hearing earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena said the company likely would pay a substantial compensation to the victims' survivors as part of a plea deal.

The workers died after a fire broke out inside a pipeline at Xcel Energy's Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant near Georgetown, Colo., about 40 miles west of Denver.

A jury in June acquitted Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc., which owns the power plant, of all criminal charges. The company has paid millions in compensation to the families.