Nightclub fire defendants agree to settle
EmptyPROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Several defendants being sued by relatives of the 100 people killed in a 2003 nightclub fire have tentatively agreed to a $13.5 million settlement, one of the families' lawyers told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The settlements, if approved by a judge, would be the first in what the plaintiffs hope will be several agreements with dozens of defendants in the lawsuits stemming from the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick. The fire also injured 200 people.
Roughly 300 fire survivors and victims' relatives have sued in federal court over the fire, which began when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White ignited flammable sound-absorbing foam around the stage and the club's walls. The foam quickly spread the blaze throughout the one-story roadhouse.
Among the companies that have tentatively agreed to settle are a manufacturers of soundproofing material, a vendor of the pyrotechnics that ignited the blaze, the company that leased the building to club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, and an alarm company, according to court papers.
John Barylick, an attorney for the families, said the settlement is dependent on the court appointing a special master to oversee the distribution of the money.
"There is certainly agreement among the parties to settle, but it's dependent on clearing some legal hurdles," Barylick said.
The lawyers are recommending that Francis McGovern, a law professor at Duke University, serve as special master. They say he has fulfilled similar duties in more than 50 cases, including litigation over silicone breast implants and DDT pesticide exposure.
McGovern did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Lawyers for two defendants, pyrotechnic maker Lunatech Inc. and pyrotechnic vendor High Tech Special Effects Inc., also did not immediately respond to calls.