Bumble Bee Foods agreed to pay $6 million to settle criminal charges Wednesday in the death of a worker who was cooked in an oven with tons of tuna.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey said the settlement is the largest payout in a California workplace-violation death.
Jose Melena, 62, died three years ago in a 35-foot long, 270-degree oven at the seafood company’s Santa Fe Springs, California, plant after a co-worker mistakenly believed he was in the bathroom and filled a pressure cooker with six tons of canned tuna.
The father-of-six was making repairs inside the pressure cooker when other workers plowed 12,000 pounds of tuna inside, closed the doors and then turned it on.
‘This is the worst circumstances of death I have ever, ever witnessed,’ said Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun, who noted he had tried more than 40 murder cases over two decades. ‘I think any person would prefer to be — if they had to die some way — would prefer to be shot or stabbed than to be slowly cooked in an oven.’
“You don’t have warm blood running in your veins if you’re not affected by the way this guy died. It’s horrific.
‘I cannot imagine a worse result of violating safety rules than something like this.’
Bumble Bee, its plant Operations Director Angel Rodriguez and former safety manager Saul Florez had each been charged with three counts of violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration rules that caused a death.
Under the agreement, Bumble Bee will be plead guilty to a misdemeanor of willfully failing to have an effective safety program in January 2017 if it completes several safety measures that include upgrading ovens so workers don’t get trapped inside and providing worker training.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk