Colorado Court of Appeals dismisses lawsuits in Georgetown Cabin Creek power plant deaths

DENVER - The Colorado Court of Appeals has dismissed lawsuits against three companies tied to the deaths of five workers at a Colorado power plant in 2007.

In a ruling Thursday, the appeals court agreed with a judge that there was no evidence that the companies violated their duties or failed to provide adequate warnings of a fire hazard.

The workers died after a fire broke out inside a pipeline at Xcel Energy's Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant near Georgetown. The men were resealing the pipeline when a flammable solvent they were using to clean an epoxy paint sprayer ignited Oct. 2, 2007.

Killed were Donald Dejaynes, 43, Dupree Holt, 37, James St. Peters, 52, Gary Foster, 48, and Anthony Aguirre, 18, all of California.

Rescuers tried lowering air tanks to the trapped workers who were more than 1,000 feet into the tunnel, but the workers were overcome by smoke and fumes from the fire 2,000 feet below them in the 4-foot-wide tunnel.

Families of the victims and four injured employees sued KTA-Tator Inc., Structural Integrity Associates Inc., and Graco, Inc., claiming the companies were negligent. Those lawsuits were dismissed.

However, RPI Coatings Inc. of Santa Fe Springs, Calif., pleaded guilty in 2011 to five misdemeanor counts of workplace safety violations resulting in death. RPI agreed to pay $1.65 million in penalties and compensation, most of which was scheduled to go to the families of the victims.

In June 2011, a Denver jury found Xcel Energy Inc. not guilty of five counts of violating federal safety regulations, including not having a rescue plan.