News

Palo Alto settles with family of utility worker who died on job in 2019

City and insurance firms agree to pay $700K, even as city appeals citations OSHA's lodged against it

Palo Alto has reached a settlement with the family of a utility worker who died of electrocution on Nov. 16, 2019, while replacing a transformer on Middlefield Road.

Donatus Okhomina, 42, died on Nov. 16, 2019, from injuries he suffered while upgrading a transformer in south Palo Alto. Courtesy Donatus Okhomina Memorial GoFundMe page.

The city completed its settlement with the family of Donatus Okhomina last month, according to the settlement document obtained by the Weekly. Okhomina was 42 years old at the time of the incident. He was alone in the bucket of a utility truck when he was caught between two high-voltage electric phases of 4,160 volts, according to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).

Under the settlement, Okhomina's wife, Tammy Okhomina, and their four daughters will receive $580,512 for their benefits claims, which will be paid largely through the city's life insurance company, PSI. The settlement is costing the city, PSI and the company Prism, which provides excess coverage, a total of $705,234, with $80,000 going to Okhomina's attorney, Mark Vickness.

The total also includes a $30,000 payment to Tammy Okhomina and her family to avoid a potential lawsuit stemming from the incident by Okhomina's family. The settlement states that the city is settling a disputed claim and that its payment "shall not be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the City of Palo Alto."

While the settlement offers the city protection from a potential lawsuit, Palo Alto remains under investigation by Cal/OSHA, which inspected the site after the incident and uncovered eight violations, including failure to ensure that an employee was wearing proper protective equipment, failure to keep a qualified "observer" at the site to prevent an accident and a failure to "isolate or insulate" workers during work that involves high-voltage equipment.

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The city is currently appealing these citations.

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Palo Alto settles with family of utility worker who died on job in 2019

City and insurance firms agree to pay $700K, even as city appeals citations OSHA's lodged against it

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 7, 2022, 2:10 pm

Palo Alto has reached a settlement with the family of a utility worker who died of electrocution on Nov. 16, 2019, while replacing a transformer on Middlefield Road.

The city completed its settlement with the family of Donatus Okhomina last month, according to the settlement document obtained by the Weekly. Okhomina was 42 years old at the time of the incident. He was alone in the bucket of a utility truck when he was caught between two high-voltage electric phases of 4,160 volts, according to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).

Under the settlement, Okhomina's wife, Tammy Okhomina, and their four daughters will receive $580,512 for their benefits claims, which will be paid largely through the city's life insurance company, PSI. The settlement is costing the city, PSI and the company Prism, which provides excess coverage, a total of $705,234, with $80,000 going to Okhomina's attorney, Mark Vickness.

The total also includes a $30,000 payment to Tammy Okhomina and her family to avoid a potential lawsuit stemming from the incident by Okhomina's family. The settlement states that the city is settling a disputed claim and that its payment "shall not be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the City of Palo Alto."

While the settlement offers the city protection from a potential lawsuit, Palo Alto remains under investigation by Cal/OSHA, which inspected the site after the incident and uncovered eight violations, including failure to ensure that an employee was wearing proper protective equipment, failure to keep a qualified "observer" at the site to prevent an accident and a failure to "isolate or insulate" workers during work that involves high-voltage equipment.

The city is currently appealing these citations.

Comments

Aletheia
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Jan 10, 2022 at 2:02 pm
Aletheia, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Why pay anything? What did the city do wrong?


We Are The People
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:40 pm
We Are The People, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jan 10, 2022 at 3:40 pm

@Aletheia:

He was alone in the bucket of a utility truck when he was caught between two high-voltage electric phases of 4,160 volts, according to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Cal/OSHA).

You go up there and Do that kind of "Dangerous dirty work".
Don't be a "Grinch".


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